By Wyndi Veigel
Hundreds of citizens and area residents attended a Farmersville Planning and Zoning meeting to make their voices heard about a proposed Muslim cemetery.
During the July 6 special called meeting, it was standing room only inside council chambers. Despite there not being an action item regarding the cemetery listed on the agenda, many citizens, both from inside and outside the city limits, spoke during the open comment portion of the meeting.
The Planning and Zoning Commission originally approved a Concept Plan for a cemetery between CR 557 and West Audie Murphy Pkwy. during their May 28 meeting. This action was unanimous by the board, however members Todd Rolen and Bryce Thompson were not present at this meeting.
According to information provided by the city, the proposed 35-acre cemetery is one lot back behind commercial property adjacent to Hwy. 380. The commercial property is planned as a separate phase from the cemetery. The phase trying to be developed is the cemetery. All the requirements have been met, according to City Engineer Eddy Daniel.
The developer is giving up, at great expense, land and dedicating it to the city of Farmersville for a future four lane divided dedicated road.
During the July 6 meeting a wide variety of concerns were expressed. The majority of those who spoke do not live within the city limits of Farmersville.
Jennifer Owen expressed concerns about Muslim burial practices and the maintenance of Muslim cemeteries.
“They are not placed in any state statute or health code type burial,” Owen said. “State law requires that they (bodies) are to be put in something and also the maintenance of how cemeteries are to be kept.”
She also went on to say that Muslims were proud of the way their cemeteries look, in complete disrepair.
“There is also soil erosion in the cemetery which is a health issue,” she said.
Pastor David Meeks of Bethlehem Baptist Church also spoke and expressed his strong opposition to the cemetery.
“The Islamic faith bases their beliefs on the Koran. I have a copy in English right here and I just want to take a moment in my allotted time and read from it,” he said. “O ye who believe, take not Jews or Christians as friends. They are friends one to another.”
Meeks went on to say that in the Koran more than 100 times, there are references to murder, killing and even rape.
“Our history is full of Islamic problems,” Meeks said about Muslims in America. “They’re at war with us.”
Rebecca James who lives on property adjacent to where the proposed cemetery land shared concerns with the Planning and Zoning Commission.
“As a resident and a tax paying citizen it is appalling to me that we would even consider bringing this in to our community,” she said. “If we need to raise revenue for the city then we should do something else. I will do whatever I need to do to facilitate that stopping.”
Gwen Kakaska also spoke against the proposed cemetery.
“I would like to thank you for the prayer, because if this continues from all the research I have done, they will come in and attack you for that,” she said.
Kakaska also spoke about the Muslims indoctrination that will take place in Farmersville if the cemetery does go through.
“Use their battle against us, against them,” she said. “I do not want my child indoctrinated toward their religion. I do not want to be constantly in view of a mosque.”
Kakaska also spoke about additional possible acreage surrounding the proposed cemetery being available. There are 70 more acres they are trying to buy, she said, plus another 18 acres.
“Total – that is more than 120 acres. Do not tell me they are not trying to put a mosque there. We do not want this to be a Muslim dumping ground,” she said.
Kenneth Roose, who is an FISD school board member, brought forth numerous questions for the commission and eventually, city council, to answer regarding the proposed cemetery.
“I understand that the cities of Frisco, McKinney, Allen, and Plano had previously been approached for this same purpose and that those towns had the foresight and interest of their citizens in mind when declining access – that is voting ‘No,’” he said. “How does the construction of this Muslim Cemetery in any way benefit the citizens of Farmersville. There will be no taxes to collect, no profit for the city, and few if any Farmersville Muslims to bury. Follow the examples of Frisco, McKinney, Allen, and Plano. Quit worrying about lawsuits and do the right thing for the citizens of Farmersville and the residents of CR 557. Be advised that I will be organizing to fight this decision every step of the way.”
Since the proposed cemetery land is not in the Farmersville city limits, they fall in the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ.)
The next step, according to information shared by the city, can only occur after the property is purchased by the Islamic Association of Collin County (IACC).
A preliminary plat will go before Planning and Zoning Commission, then up to City Council. Then a final plat will go through Planning and Zoning and then up through council. These are the only steps that the city takes since the land is in the ETJ.
According to Mayor Joe Helmberger, if all of the city’s ordinances are adhered to as they pertain to the development process, the city is obligated to approve the plat and plans.
“It’s a long and time consuming process,” he said.
Other topics, including the denial of the Camden Park subdivision were discussed. For more information on this topic, see the July 16 edition of The Farmersville Times.