By Sam Richards firstname.lastname@example.org
BAY POINT — Approval of a 5,900-square-foot mosque in the Shore Acres neighborhood is expected this coming week by Contra Costa County’s zoning administrator.
The structure would serve as a gathering hall for the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam Bay Point community, which since 1988 has used as its main worship center a much smaller building on the same 2.8-acre parcel at Pacifica Avenue and Wharf Drive.
Primary features of the planned building include a 35-foot-high dome bracketed by twin 35-foot minarets.
The existing 2,664-square-foot mosque — a renovated outbuilding — would be demolished if the larger structure is approved.
Bay Point Ahmadiyya Movement President Khurran Shah said he hopes construction of the $2 million project could begin in next spring.
“This project has been in the works since 2001, but we were always afraid of the cost,” said Shah, who owns a regional towing company and is co-owner of the Pittsburg Diamonds professional baseball team. The new mosque was originally planned as a 10,000-square-foot structure, but costs dictated a smaller one, he said.
Though the new structure would be primarily for use by the Bay Point group’s 225 members, Shah said it could be made available for small community meetings and other gatherings.
Plans show the facade fronting Pacifica Avenue, across the street from Rio Vista Elementary School.
The Bay Point group is affiliated with the larger Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which bills itself as the only Islamic organization that a “separation of mosque and state.” It also describes itself as anti-terrorist and anti-violence.
The structure plan, which could change in minor ways after its approval, was designed by Pleasant Hill architect Nelda Braver. She described the experience to this point as “wonderful.”
“Bay Point has a bad reputation,” she said. “But this project really changed my attitude about Bay Point.” The community’s Municipal Advisory Council, was “a warm, welcoming group.” The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community sought the council’s support for the mosque plan in February and September 2014.
Added Shah, “Everyone here’s been very supportive, and we’ve received a lot of good will from everyone.”
Ahmadiyya leaders adjusted the project to conform with county rules, said Sean Tully, a county planner. Such modifications touched upon parking lot configuration, site landscaping and on-site drainage features, he said.
The zoning administrator’s approval of the project would be final unless an appeal is filed within 10 days. Such an appeal would be decided first by the Contra Costa County Planning Commission.
Monday’s zoning administrator meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. at 30 Muir Road, Martinez, just east of the Contra Costa Cinemas.
Contact Sam Richards at 925-943-8241. Follow him at Twitter.com/samrichardsWC