Westminster wins out over Muslim group in land bid

The Huntington Beach City Council on Tuesday rejected an offer from a Muslim group seeking to build a mosque on land the city is selling.

Instead, the city accepted an offer made by the city of Westminster for the piece of land, which lies in Westminster and is outside of Huntington’s jurisdiction.

Al Noor Charitable Foundation’s offer was higher than Westminster’s, but it was rejected because the group is requesting to change the land use so they can build the mosque.

While members of the City Council said they would be happy to sell it to Al Noor, the issue over changing the land use could stall the sale and prevent Huntington from benefiting sooner than later. Westminster, however, might not be able to pay for the land because of a potential loss of state redevelopments funds — money that city is relying on to pay for the parcel.

City Manager Fred Wilson said Westminster’s manger expressed concerns about the source of funding, but said they will be looking for another source to pay for the land.

Councilman Keith Bohr motioned to accept the sale from Westminster, with a 5% down payment that would be required once the Westminster City Council votes on the matter this month. He said the down payment requirement would push Westminster to make a decision faster.

If Westminster backs out, the council would be expected to re-open talks with Al Noor, Bohr said.

Mark Hussein, who spoke on behalf of Al Noor, said his group is in talks with Westminster officials about a land-use change.

Mayor Joe Carchio voted against Westminster’s offer.