Area residents vocal in opposition to proposed cemetery
By Chad Engbrock
What would have normally been a quiet city council meeting with staff reports, a special use permit for a new business and maybe one or two citizens in attendance, took on a different look because of a proposed cemetery.
Just west of Farmersville’s city limits, in its extraterritorial jurisdiction (“ETJ”), a 34-acre tract of land, has become a focal point for area residents. The tract is located south of Hwy. 380, east of County Road 557, between Home Grown Plants and A&A Landscaping.
A proposed Muslim cemetery has conjured raw emotion that has created what some would call misinformation and others the beginnings of terrorist militants in the city’s backyard.
During the July 14 meeting’s public comments over 200 residents from Farmersville and its outlying area listened to concerns voiced by several citizens, including two church pastors.
Those wishing to speak during the allotted 30 minutes of public comments were given three minutes to voice their concerns. As prescribed by state law, councilmembers could not respond to questions presented by speakers.
Each of the speakers expressed their concern that city officials and councilmembers had allowed a Muslim cemetery to be located next to the city. Pastor David Curry drew a biblical analogy regarding Islamic faith and the responsibilities of councilmembers.
“Any religion that could actively promote and teaches violence should be banned as unacceptable as non-religion,” Curry said. “We look at the city council here as the gatekeepers. If you look at biblical times the gatekeepers were the ones that set the gate, they made the contracts, they did the documents, they did the research. Check out other cities that have allowed Muslims to come in. They start with their teaching centers and it’s well and it’s good and then they end up with a mosque. I love the people…but I do not like what they bring to the table.”
Farmersville resident Bettye Mondy expressed a desire to meet with those purchasing the property and hoped citizens would be able to decide the ultimate outcome of the property.
“We are hoping that we would get a chance to vote on this, because you guys represent us,” said Mondy, “we voted you guys in….we need to have a say in this, about the cemetery.”
The city of Farmersville posted information on its website regarding the proposed cemetery property.
The information includes a summary of the events that have transpired and the actions the city can and cannot take regarding the property.
According to reports, the Islamic Association of Collin County has closed on the property and now owns the land.
Since the property is located outside of its city limits the city cannot enforce any zoning ordinance, or otherwise regulate the land’s use.
The city does have the legal ability to control the platting of subdivisions in its ETJ as it relates to Chapter 212 and section 212.010 of the Texas Government Code.
According to city information, the IACC has entered the three-step development process with the city that includes a concept plan, a preliminary plat and a final plat.
The concept plan, which did not require council approval, has been completed and the city is in the process of ensuring that procedural documentation is followed by the IACC in the platting process.
According to information supplied by the city, the IACC has been made aware that opposition towards the cemetery has been raised by residents. However, the IACC has indicated that they want to continue with the next step, a preliminary plat.
The city has also indicated that no individual ownership of gravesites is planned and no training facility, mosque, or future land purchase is planned for or around the site. Burials at the cemetery would follow Texas laws.
According to the Texas government code, municipalities shall approve a plat if it is located within its city limits or its ETJ and conforms to all the city’s rules as they relate to section 212.002. A city must act on a plat within 30 days of its filing. If it fails to do so, according to Texas law the plat is deemed to have been approved.
A city may disapprove a plat within that timeframe and must document a technical reason for the denial upon request by the property owner.
The next regular city council meeting is July 28. The next planning and zoning meeting is August 3.