TOP: The main portion of the campus as shown in the site plan submitted to Howard County. Bottom, a view of the existing campus as seen from one of the hills on the property. Images courtesy of Dar-us-Salaam.
After more than one year of feasability studies and discussions with county officials and neighbors, Dar-us-Salaam submitted its application to Howard County for conditional use to operate an educational and religious campus on a 66-acre property in Cooksville, Maryland on November 6, 2013.
Dar-us-Salaam, based in College Park, Maryland. announced it was looking at the property as a potential new home for Al-Huda School and Dar-us-Salaam's religious services and projects in August 2012. After consulting with the community in numerous town hall meetings, Dar-us-Salaam began a comprehensive feasability study including zoning, environmental, water, and traffic studies to ensure the property would meet the current and long-term needs of Al-Huda School and the congregation.
The property, located just off of Interstate-70 and Route 32 in the Western part of Howard County about 10-minutes from Ellicot City, is the former site of Woodmont Academy, a catholic school which closed in 2010. Woodmont Academy invested heavily in the property, installing storm water management and electrical infrastructure, commercial septic and well systems, building a private driveway, parking lots, and a brand new school facility with an indoor gym, and installing 5-modular buildings at a cost close to $10 million. Woodmont Academy planned for massive growth and applied for and received Howard County approvals to build a campus of over a dozen buildings and a total of 325,000 square feet. The campus would acccomodate around 1,800 students, staff, and worshipers. The school ended up closing and the approvals expired last summer, but a precedent was set for the property which makes a strong case for Dar-us-Salaam getting approved for a similar campus.
The conditional use process generally takes 6-9 months in front of a zoning hearing examiner and possibly the Howard County Board of Appeals. "All indications, studies, and discussion we've had with planners, engineers, officials, and attorneys make us very confident that we will get the approvals we need to begin moving the school and operations there next year," said Sayeed Jaweed, a member of the board.
Dar-us-Salaam's plan submited to the county (the main part of the campus is shown above) is for a campus serving around 2,000 students, staff, and worshipers, with a build-out in phases over 12 years which would eventually include 275,300 square feet of building space, 629 parking spaces, gymnasiums and indoor swimming pools for both boys and girls, a masjid, a commons building, and educational facilities.
"We really need the community to understand that this project must move forward for the sake of Allah, and to have confidence in our mission to provide the best education for our children. Right now, we need to secure this for the future generations, so donate whatever you can," said Safi Khan, the Imam of Dar-us-Salaam. For more information, visit www.HomeoftheHeart.org.