Desoto County News

Mosque cemetery plan gets Horn Lake board approval

There will be a groundbreaking ceremony Sunday afternoon at the site of a mosque along Church Road in Horn Lake, a building that earlier this year needed a U.S. District Judge’s ruling for a site plan approval.  

That information was an offshoot of discussion during the Horn Lake Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday evening on a conditional use request of about 1.2 acres for a cemetery at The Abraham House of God, located at 4600 Church Road West.  

The cemetery, located next to the mosque, would have room for 520 burial sites. Soil testing has been done and determined the land would be suitable for a cemetery.  

Planning Director Chad Bahr told aldermen the issue was first presented to the Planning Commission in April but it was tabled and further action did not come up again until September. The Planning Commission then approved the conditional use request on a 4-3 vote, sending it to the board for final approval, which came Tuesday on a 7-0 vote.   

The Muslim community first proposed the construction of a mosque along Church Road West in April 2021, but city officials at the time rejected the zoning request on appeal of the Planning Commission’s rejection. 

Co-founders of Abraham House of God: Riyadh Elkhayyat and Maher Abuirshaid (American Civil Liberties Union — Mississippi)

Led by Riyadh Elkhayyat and Maher Abuirshaid, co-founders of the Abraham House of God, a lawsuit was filed with representation by the American Civil Liberties Union to force the City of Horn Lake to approve the site plan. 

The mosque, the first of its type in DeSoto County, was planned to allow members of the Muslim community a place to worship without having to travel outside the county.  

Resistance to the plan came about in the form of about 400 signatures to a petition, which neighbor Greg Speltz reminded the board about Tuesday night, at the same time acknowledging there was little more that could be done about it.

Elkhayyat and Abuirshaid thanked the board after the vote and invited city officials to be a part of the groundbreaking event on Sunday. Elkhayyat later said it’s expected that the mosque should take about a year to be built.  

The conditional use for the cemetery was one of a number of planning and zoning items on Tuesday’s Horn Lake agenda. A request for a zoning change from A-R to C-4 commercial was approved on a 5-2 vote. The two-acre site at Nail Road West and state Highway 301 is being developed for a gas station and convenience store. That revelation brought opposition to the plan from Alderman Robbie DuPree, who said that it would reinforce a perception of Horn Lake being a city “filled with gas stations.” DuPree said the plan would mean “seven gas stations in a five mile area.” 

Another plan approved a zoning amendment change in the DeSoto Commons PUD at 6572 U.S. Highway 51 North to C-3 to allow for 19.63 acres to be developed into an RV Park.