Compatibility of religious center debated in Clearview



Compatibility of religious center debated in Clearview

OPEN VIEW – Dozens of Clearview neighbors want to control the sound of activities at a destination religious assembly facility on rural land and want to block a proposal to permanently change the facility’s use from a stable to a center of religious services.
County Hearings Examiner Peter Camp decides whether to approve a conditional use permit for the Husaynia Islamic Society of Seattle to improve the interior of a barn to make it a better center of worship.
The site is along State Street, a two-lane road that runs parallel to Broadway. The center purchased a former riding school in 2019.
Annual special event permits have permitted some religious gatherings here since 2020. County planners ended the practice when approving this year’s special event permit which lasted until September 30. They attached a specific note that it would be the last.
Husaynia land use representative Onum Esonu said the improvements meet all county codes.
The group said the upgrades will add soundproofing. Camp told a hearing last week that he wanted exact details of the soundproofing that will be done, and said those details could be a condition he would need if he approved the permit.
The county code permits religious facilities on rural R-5 lands as conditional uses.
Neighbors looking for peace and quiet say a place of worship is not suitable for rural life. They also say that this center does not serve the immediate vicinity, unlike a country store or similar, which means it is inconsistent with what may receive a conditional use permit for rural land use.
The facility hosts weekly religious gatherings indoors, which mostly take place from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., her application says. Pickers come more frequently for daytime ceremonies in mid-summer for Muharram and in spring for Ramadan.
Irritated neighbors say they can hear it from their properties.
David Johnson lives about 400 feet away. He released an audio clip he recorded from his yard where chanting could be heard. It was on speakers, he said, which are amplified enough to make the barn one big speaker.
“My children were woken up at 9, 10 p.m. by sudden screams into the microphone from five properties up north,” neighbor Deanna Herbert testified.
In the summer, this forces Elena Gilbertson and her husband Greg to enter their home to block out the sound, they said.
Husaynia chief Abidi Zahra denied that the center uses outside loudspeakers. “I know sometimes the sound died out,” Zahra said. She blames the barn’s thin walls. Soundproofing would solve this problem, say Husaynia supporters.
At the hearing, Camp ordered county planning staff to submit copies of all special permits for the past three years and any incident reports from the sheriff’s office for code or noise violations. Their deadline is October 28.
Husaynia is a Shia or Shia establishment. Shiites make up around 15% of all Muslims in the world, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Muslims of the Sunni and Ahmadi faiths visit different religious centers that teach their different branches of Islam.
Devotees of Husaynia from the greater Snohomish County area have testified to the importance of this site due to the few existing Shia centers. Husaynia also holds services at a Christian church where she borrows time from Kenmore.
Zahra said the entire state has only three Shia centers.
Some Shiites describe themselves as “a minority within a minority within a minority”, as a worshiper of Husaynia, Khan Madi Hussain of Bothell, said during the hearing.
Husaynia says there can be up to 80 people coming to services at her center.
But the activities generate complaints.
Neighbors point out that it is not because it is an Islamic center.
“I don’t hear complaints from neighbors about religion – that’s not it,” Cathleen Gustafson said, but when the neighbors moved here they expected quiet.
Another, Vanner Elander, mentioned that a Christian church that moved to 91st Avenue SE had to move in the past 15 years due to incompatibility. He identified it as Pursuit Church, which has now grown to occupy space at Second and Pine streets in Snohomish.
The rules for allowing churches in rural areas apply to churches serving the immediate area. “It’s not our church, how can it be approved?” testifies a local resident.
More than 50 people testified at the October 13 hearing, which lasted nearly five hours.
The site was once the equestrian arena of Corterra Farms.
Husayn was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The Shia do a ceremonial beating of their chest as part of his honor.

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