Mosque plans to open Saturday in Keene without permit from cityBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
December 21. 2017 10:52PM
KEENE — The mosque and interfaith center at Route 101/Marlboro Road plans to open Saturday without a required city permit, according to its founder, Will Coley.
Coley is originally from Tennessee where he acquired the nickname “the Redneck Muslim.”
Coley said this week he plans to hold his grand opening Saturday and has not had time to respond to a letter from the city requesting he file for a change of use at the house that was previously rented as a residence.
The Masjid al Latiff and Interfaith Community or “MALIC” Center held its first Friday prayer service last week.
Coley said Tuesday he received a letter from the city in which he was given three weeks to complete paperwork requesting the change of use for the building. Coley maintains he called the city and asked about the process and what would be required of him before uprooting his family from Tennessee and moving to Keene to accept the house as a gift from the Shire Free Church of Keene.
“When I get time for them I will start the process,” Coley said. “Until then, they can wait.”
Coley said he would have had time to complete the paperwork in October but was unaware then that he needed to complete it.
Coley said work on the center continues and may take up to a year saying the “church area” is not complete yet and the nursery is only half complete.
The city of Keene has referred questions about the mosque permits to Planning Director Rhett Lamb who has not returned messages regarding the mosque.
City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said Thursday she knows a letter was sent to Coley but does not know what permitting the city is requiring since the city needs Coley to fill out the paperwork regarding the use of the building.
She said Lamb has been talking with Coley about the center and said she was unaware the center was opening this weekend.