🔴 A Sayreville mosque cannot reopen despite pleading from its members

🔴 The mosque is using zoom services as Ramadan begins Wednesday

🔴 Borough officials say the property owner did not pay $600,000 in fines

SAYREVILLE — A Middlesex County mosque must stay closed for the upcoming observation of Ramadan because it owes over $600,000 in fines for code violations.

Nearly a dozen speakers came forward at a recent Sayreville Borough council meeting calling on the local body to reopen Masjid Sadar for the upcoming holiday. Ramadan begins March 22 and lasts through April 21.

The mosque on Ernston Road, which also acts as a community center, opened in 2021. Advocates for the mosque's reopening said at the meeting that the space is needed for Muslims to prepare to observe the holiday.

"Masjid Sadar, the mosque, is really important for all the Muslims," one man said. "It's not just a mosque, it's a community center. It's not just open for Muslims but everyone in the community can just come."

Sayreville residents line up to speak at a council meeting. (via Youtube)
Sayreville residents line up to speak at a council meeting. (via Youtube)

Another man asked for help from the borough to find another space to temporarily relocate to as there were no other mosques in Sayreville. Other speakers, including frustrated residents, questioned why the council wasn't working faster to reopen the building.

In response, Council President Christian Onuoha explained that the situation was out of their hands. He said that the closing wasn't "personal" and that he would try to work with other members of council to find another commercial property until the problems are resolved.

"It's strictly from a zoning standpoint," Onuoha said. "Our professionals do state on a consistent basis that the center needs to follow the zoning requirements for it to be reopened. And we're not looking at just meeting one requirement but from my understanding, it's a long list of requirements."

Sean Kean, an attorney for the borough, said that the mosque's owner, Shameer Properties, had been operating without full approval for over a year.

Sayreville borough attorney Sean Kean speaks, at right of empty chair. (via Youtube)
Sayreville borough attorney Sean Kean speaks, at right of empty chair. (via Youtube)

"The town was trying to work with the owner. The owner accrued over $600,000 in fines from the township for not complying with the municipal code requirements," Kean said.

Some fines were for dangerous conditions, such as failing to meet fire safety standards that the structure of the building itself was unsafe.

The attorney said that the council didn't arbitrarily decide to "put the hammer down" and close the mosque.

"That's not what happened at all," Kean said. "It was a process that was going on for over a year and the town was showing great leniency in letting the town center continue with the owner continuing to promise that he was going to file a plan with the land use board. They filed a plan but it was grossly inadequate."

Kean said that a new plan had been submitted and that it was under review.

Onuoha and Kean did not respond to a request for comment. New Jersey 101.5 has reached out to Shameer Properties. A call to the mosque for an update was not returned Tuesday.

Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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