City, mosque leaders reach accord on building repairs

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The Masjid Noor mosque at 1330 Cutting Blvd. was shut down due to fire code violations. Fire officials didn't even know the building was being used.

Prayer might soon resume at a Richmond mosque that had been operating out of an unsafe building.

The Masjid Noor mosque at 1330 Cutting Blvd. was shut down following a surprise inspection by Richmond Fire Marshal Terry Harris on Dec. 31. The Fire Department thought the building was vacant until a battalion chief spotted people entering and leaving it. The mosque was deemed uninhabitable due to “severe” structural damage on a portion of the building that poses a fire hazard, Harris said.

The closure of a place of worship by the city sparked controversy.

However, the mosque’s leaders, who happen to have engineers among them, have been cooperating with the city and are preparing a plan to fix the problems, Harris said at Tuesday’s council meeting. The Council agreed that part of the building could be reopened in the coming weeks or months while repairs are being made to the damaged portion. Councilmembers requested a regular progress report from city staff on the fixes.

Mosque leaders were appreciative of the city’s commitment to expediting the permitting process.

“We’re moving full steam ahead to resolve this,” Harris said. “We’re just waiting on their engineers to turn in the plans.”

Harris said the shutdown of the mosque was solely about safety.

“About 70-percent of the building had no Sheetrock,” which is used to prevent the spread of fires, Harris said.

“There were no fire blocks, no insulation, no heat, there was cooking appliances in the hallway,” Harris added.

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