Planning and zoning commission members in Farmersville unanimously approved the final concept plans for a Muslim-owned cemetery just outside city limits Monday evening.
The proposed 34-acre cemetery would be located on currently undeveloped land near U.S. Highway 380 and County Road 557.
Farmersville, a Collin County town of fewer than 4,000 residents, is about an hour north of Dallas.
The Islamic Association of Collin County purchased the land back in 2015 for about $500,000. Farmersville City Council members initially approved the permit unanimously in May 2015, but the plans began drawing strong opposition soon after.
Monday evening, about 40 people quietly sat during the planning and zoning commission meeting.
Public comment wasn't allowed, but residents were given comment cards to fill out about their feelings toward the cemetery.
Jack Hawkins, a Farmersville landowner, said he was strongly opposed to the cemetery and the Muslim religion in general.
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"If I had my way, I would outlaw it in America. And I would tear down every mosque that was in this country. That's the way I feel about it," Hawkins said.
Pastor David Meeks, of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, was one of the most vocal opponents in 2015 – opposition he said has only grown stronger.
"From what I hear, from my perspective, is that people are really more concerned than before," Meeks said. "There have been terrible, drastic things happen in the world through radical Islamic terrorism, and any thought of that coming to our community just brings and harbors anxiousness, you know, that we're concerned with."
Meeks was at the August 2015 town hall meeting that drew a standing-room only crowd, many of whom were Farmersville residents strongly opposed to the proposal.
According to Shumsur Rahman, the IACC has been working closely with city leaders over the past two years to figure out the best way to move forward.
Rahman said the initial permits expired after a year, so Monday evening's meeting was essentially starting the process over again.
The Islamic Association will now submit a preliminary plat to the planning and zoning commission. Eventually, the proposal will head to the full Farmersville City Council.
Architectural designs have not yet been finalized, but it would likely house about 15,000 burial plots. There are no plans to build a mosque on the site.
Currently, the Muslim community buries their dead in Restland Cemetery in Dallas, but space is running out.