AN UNDERSTRENGTH Toowoomba Regional Council committee yesterday decided to delay a vote on a bid by Toowoomba's Islamic community to overturn restrictions on the number of worshippers allowed at the mosque.

Five of 11 councillors were not present at the Development Application Panel to hear council officers explain why the request should be rejected.

The Toowoomba Islamic Charitable Organisation was asking council to remove a restriction that limits the number of worshippers allowed to pray at the mosque during the week to 50, and 150 during lunchtime Friday prayers.

MOSQUE MATTERS: The mayors of Toowoomba past listen to Imam Abdul Kader of the Garden City Mosque put his view forward in council chambers. Wednesday Dec 7, 2016.
MOSQUE MATTERS: The mayors of Toowoomba past listen to Imam Abdul Kader of the Garden City Mosque put his view forward in council chambers. Wednesday Dec 7, 2016. Nev Madsen

The restriction was part of a myriad of conditions imposed by the council when it approved an expansion of the mosque on September 14 this year.

Muslims say the expansion is needed to provide ablution facilities. The mosque is being rebuilt after being left unusable by two arson attacks last year.

The councillors present, who barely made up the required quorum of six, voted unanimously to defer a decision until next week's general meeting.

How the Garden City Mosque will look upon completion of the expansion. Photo Contributed
How the Garden City Mosque will look upon completion of the expansion. Photo Contributed Contributed

They were told by planning officers the application should be rejected because existing conditions ensured on-street car parking would be restricted and noise would not affect the amenity of neighbours.

A limit of 50 people was well above the indicative level of attendance levels provided in the original application, the councillors were told by officers.

The applicant referred to a number of other places of worship including in Highfields, Glenvale and Harlaxton - that were not similarly restricted.

Officers argued that precedent was not a relevant consideration.

The councillors were told that concerns had been received from the community relating to "potential discrimination"

"The faith or the denomination of the worshippers is not a relevant consideration."

The mosque after it was destroyed by fire.
The mosque after it was destroyed by fire. Darren England

Imam Abdul Kader argued passionately for the application to be approved.

He said his planners were not aware the number of worshippers would be capped.

Imam Kader said the change in condition was needed to maintain the city's reputation of peace and harmony, and to attract international students and tourists.

The Chronicle asked the five missing councillors why they did not attend the meeting.

Cr Bill Cahill initially said it was none of The Chronicle's business and later clarified he had a private appointment.

Cr Carol Taylor said she was busy on other council business.

Nancy Sommerfield and Mayor Paul Antonio could not be contacted.

Cr Megan O'Hara Sullivan is on holidays.



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