Leaders of the Dar-us-Salaam community in College Park have been looking for years for a new home, a place for a school and a mosque close enough to be convenient for members living in several counties. They've scouted hundreds of spots and looked closely at a handful, and now they think they've found what they've been looking for in the rural western section of Howard County.
The 66-acre former home of the Woodmont Academy, a Catholic school in Cooksville, looks just right to the Muslim community leadership, with buildings already in place and plenty of undeveloped land for parking and a new mosque to accommodate thousands of worshippers in the decades to come. To many of the people who live nearby, however, it seems all wrong, a poor fit for a rural community weary of battling what they consider encroachments on the quiet way of life they've chosen.
Some remember the "Stop Woodmont Academy" signs sprouting on lawns 12 years ago, when the school staked out a spot in a residential area a few miles from where the project was eventually built on Frederick Road. Now there's a "Preserve the Woodmont Academy Land" Facebook page; a recent routine homeowners association meeting turned into a session on Dar-us-Salaam that drew a couple of hundred people; and residents talk of fighting a project that to them seems too large for an area of horse farms and homes.