By Wyndi Veigel
Misinformation, lies, hate and mistrust have been circling Farmersville surrounding controversy over a proposed Muslim Cemetery.
And the Islamic Association of Collin County is stepping forward to share information that they hope will clear the air and eventually make for better relationships between future neighbors.
According to Khalil Abdur-Rashid, who is a full-time employee with the Islamic Association of Collin County, the property near CR 557 and Audie Murphy Parkway has been closed on.
“Our next step is to reach out to the city boards, council to simply talk to them about concerns,” he said. “Since there have been threats to elected officials we are proceeding cautiously and then we will go from there.”
Abdur-Rashid, who was born in Atlanta, Ga., and has worked at both Columbia University and Southern Methodist University, said that he does not anticipate anything happening with the property for the next several months.
One of the main goals of the IACC is to get information out to the public about what Islam in America is and what it is not.
“I’m most surprised by the vitriol in the comments I’ve seen with having a cemetery,” Abdur-Rashid said. “They have been quite hurtful and very full of hate. Frankly, I thought we had enough work to do to bridge the gap for American Muslims, I did not know we had to do it for the deceased as well.”
Anyone who has questions about Islam or about the proposed cemetery can call Abdur-Rashid and the IACC at 972-491-5800, ext. 104.
One reason, he said, that the property in Farmersville was purchased was simply a need for a place to bury their loved ones within Collin County.
Many towns were looked at including McKinney, Allen, Blue Ridge and Anna, but there simply was not the land available that they needed, he said.
Currently, the IACC uses a portion of Restland Cemetery in Dallas, however, there is not much space left for their use.
Since there are 22,000 Muslims in Collin County and the IACC has five centers within the county – two in Plano, one in Allen, one in McKinney and one in Frisco, Abdur-Rashid said it is very important for them to have a cemetery in Collin County that is sustainable for the future.
A perpetual bond will be established for the maintenance and care of the cemetery.
At the time it is believed it would be around $500,000, according to information released by the city.
The area adjacent with West Audie Murphy Parkway is planned to be a commercial strip center for rental to support the perpetual care of the cemetery.
When Abdur-Rashid’s own 12-year-old daughter passed away from cancer, his family had to bury her in Dallas at Restland Cemetery, even though he is a Plano resident.
“It would have been much easier if there was a place in Collin County where she could have been buried,” he said.
It is envisioned, according to information released by the city, that the proposed cemetery would look and feel much like the section of Restland Cemetery that is currently used by the IACC. The only structure that is planned for the cemetery is an open-air pavilion and there are no plans to build a mosque, a training facility or any plans to buy additional land surrounding the cemetery, Abdur-Rashid said.
One area of mistrust and misinformation regarding the proposed cemetery is how Muslims bury the deceased.
According to Abdur-Rashid and information released by the city of Farmersville in an informational pamphlet that can be found online at www.farmersvilletx.com, the deceased are not embalmed but are washed by a licensed funeral director, then shrouded and placed into a wooden coffin, which is then placed into a concrete vault and buried inside the ground.
By Texas State Law, embalming is not required.
When the IACC moves forward, the city of Farmersville will look at the preliminary plat for the property and then the final plat.
Both plats must go to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then the city council and a public hearing is required.
When it comes to the approval or disapproval of a plat the city has very little, if any, discretion to disapprove a plat.
“The municipal authority responsible for approving plats must approve a plat or replat that is required to be prepared under this subchapter and that satisfies all applicable regulations,” Texas Local Government Code 212.005 states.
According to information released by the city, Farmersville does have the authority to regulate the platting of subdivisions of land in the City’s ETJ under Chapter 212 of the Texas Local Government Code and an Interlocal Agreement between the city and Collin County.
The proposed cemetery property could be developed as a Muslim cemetery without approval of a plat but for the fact the city’s Thoroughfare Development Plan indicates a future four-lane divided roadway running along the eastern boundary and across a portion of the proposed cemetery property that requires dedication to the
Absent such roadway dedication requirement, the size and location of the proposed cemetery property falls within the five-acre exception to platting as the applicant has indicated the plots in the cemetery will remain the property of the IACC and will not be conveyed to the decedents’ respective families.