Church would affect quality of life, they say
by Sadie Jo Smokey - Sept. 17, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
It's not about religion. It's about losing mountain views, and it's about the color and the height of the proposed four-story Mormon temple in a north Phoenix neighborhood.
That's the sentiment of residents who are opposing a 9,500-square-foot temple at 5104 W. Pinnacle Peak Road, which will serve the growing West Valley.
"It's obtrusive to the neighborhood, not conducive to the environment, and it's of no benefit to us," said Sue Bolton, who has lived in the neighborhood for 16 years and is not a member of the church. Bolton was among more than 200 people who gathered this week in north Phoenix to voice their concerns over the proposed temple.
"To light up that spire like a torch until 11 p.m. is a severe detriment to us," said resident Tasha Cady, who has lived in the residential area for 28 years. "They are Johnny-come-latelies. Why should they be able to steal our quality of life?"
Temples are the most sacred places in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith - it's where weddings and other special events are held, and not everyone is allowed inside. This would be the first temple in Phoenix and third temple in the Valley. The Mesa temple is approximately 65,000 square feet. Gilbert approved a 35,000-square-foot temple this month.
But those who support the sacred edifice that the church plans to build say that concerns about a "brilliant white monster building" are unwarranted.
Chris Church lives a block away from and worships at the LDS meetinghouse adjoining the proposed site at 51st Avenue and Pinnacle Peak Road. He said temples improve property values and the community. That empty lot is an eyesore, it's a dumping ground," Church said. "The dark skies are gone, that is the reality. I have a street light in my backyard."
Building height at issue - The church plans to build a temple with a square footprint, city records show. A parking lot would be on the northern and eastern sides of the structure and the property would include a fountain and lush landscaping.
Zoning attorney Paul Gilbert, who is representing the church as it goes through the city approval process, said that at present, two wards, approximately 1,000 members, worship at the meetinghouse east of the proposed site. Deer Valley has three meetinghouses.
Gilbert said the church has complied with every city ordinance, from notification to drainage.
Tonight, Gilbert will provide information to the Deer Valley Village Planning Committee and the public about the project.
In October, the committee will hear the request to rezone the property from residential to planned unit development. Residential zoning caps building height at 30 feet. As submitted, the proposed structure would be 48 feet tall, with an additional 78 feet of steeple and spire.
"The only thing we're asking that we couldn't do as a matter of zoning is that 18 feet," Gilbert said. "Everything else, we're allowed to do. The neighbors are protesting 18 feet, that's it."
The Phoenix City Council will have the final say.
Encouraging public input - Phoenix's planning director, Debra Stark, told residents Tuesday that the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act permits churches to be built in any type of zoning and does not restrict the height of a steeple or spire. Stark and Phoenix Councilwoman Thelda Williams, who represents the area, encouraged residents to get involved in the zoning process by attending meetings and offering suggestions. "The option can't be, we just can't have it, period," Williams said.
So...this is the story that was in the newspaper yesterday about our new proposed temple. I'm sure there are all types of issues that come up during the building of a temple. Satan always wants to prevent the work from going forward. Now, I am not typically a person that makes fun of others - at least I try not to because that is not Christ-like - but seriously...look at the picture of that lady! I just could not get over the hatred in her face. It's obvious that she knows nothing of the good that members of our church do. It's obvious, too, that she has not looked out her front door recently at night and seen the super bright "stadium" lights that light up the sky across the street from her where there is a GINORMOUS sports park. Steal her quality of life? Severe detriment? Whatever. NOT. It will only add to the surroundings. Yeah, I'm not a big fan of where it's proposed to be built and yeah, I think it's actually too small (9,500 sq ft vs 35,000 sq ft for the Gilbert temple and vs 65,000 square feet for the Mesa temple), BUT, I'm just happy we finally won't have to drive all the way to Mesa anymore!