Official denies backing bid to stop Muslim plan

October 25, 2007

WALKERSVILLE -- A Walkersville town commissioner denied Tuesday that he gave $500 to a citizens group that opposes plans for a Muslim worship and conference center in the rural Frederick County community.

Commissioner Chad Weddle also denied having advised the Citizens for Walkersville on how to defeat the project proposed by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.

The allegations surfaced in a sworn affidavit hours before the planning commission in the town of 5,600 voted on a zoning amendment proposed by Weddle that could block the project by prohibiting places of worship, schools and private clubs on agricultural land.

In a 4-2 vote, the commission agreed to recommend approval of the ordinance, the Frederick News-Post reported.

Weddle declined to comment on his views concerning the plan to construct on the 224-acre site a two-story, multiple-use building that would serve as a mosque for 20 local families and as the center of annual national gatherings of 5,000 to 10,000 people.

He said his amendment, aimed at preserving open space, has been misconstrued as racist and biased, and that he met with the citizens group Oct. 13 only to explain the town's planning and zoning process.

"I have to explain the legal issues," said Weddle, an attorney. He said the citizens group was "like any constituent or applicant that wants to meet with me."

Calvin B. Haxton said in a sworn affidavit that he attended the Oct. 13 meeting and heard Weddle speak for about 30 minutes on "the best way to beat the Muslims." He said Weddle distributed copies of town regulations with underlined sections that Weddle referred to as "talking points," specific factors on which the Board of Zoning Appeals must base its decision on whether to approve or deny the request for a special exception to the current zoning law.

Haxton also said that Weddle suggested the group get a lawyer and offered $500 to help hire one.

Associated Press

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