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LDS Church community members praise Heber temple plans

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to build a new temple at 1400 East Center Street just outside Heber City, which is currently home to open pastures.

Local churchgoers in the Heber area are celebrating after hearing news of a temple to be built in their valley, and some say they hope those who have concerns will give it a chance.

Heber resident Ruth Holmes says Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temples have always inspired her. She used to drive past the historic temple in Manti everyday to go to high school. These days, she and her husband serve weekly in the Provo temple.

She says she was elated to learn on Monday that an LDS temple will be built just outside Heber City. To her, that means they and their five sons will soon be able to serve in their religion to the same capacity as always without having to travel to Provo.

“We always had hopes that a temple would be here, and so we've been praying for one,” Holmes says. “There'd be times that I couldn't go down there because of the roads in Provo Canyon — they get too icy, or the assignments were early in the morning — it was kind of dangerous for me to go down by myself or travel home at night by myself.”

As she says, temples are a holy sanctuary in the LDS religion.

“To the LDS Church community, it means the literal dwelling place of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is his house,” she says. “When we go to that place, we literally feel His presence, and there's no other place like it on the Earth, to have that portal of peace and of love and of clarity and of revelation.”

The future temple site east of downtown Heber on Center Street is an area where many live already and more development is expected.

It’s within a mile of Taylor West. His family of eight also travels regularly to Provo or American Fork, and sometimes there isn’t room for everyone to visit those popular temples.

He says the Heber Valley temple will allow the Wests — particularly his teenagers — to better exercise their faith, and he praises the location for its proximity to neighborhoods and open spaces.

Andrew Weber is another father of six who lives about a mile from the site. He says his family looks forward to attending the new temple regularly.

He’s also aware of concerns community members have about the temple. Those include traffic impacts, abrupt changes to property values and possibly bright lights polluting the dark sky.

“I think it totally depends on if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Weber says. “That's not necessarily true that it can't add value to the community even if you're not, but a lot of folks only see it as a large, maybe really well-lit building. I think over time, it won't have as much of an impact as some people may think it will, other than just a great addition to the valley.”

In social media posts, some who identified as Heber Valley residents said they feared the temple would attract more development where there’s already more growth than they want. Others questioned whether the three-story building in a residential zone will meet county planning rules.

According to County Planning Director Doug Smith, the building hasn’t been granted any entitlements. He said it’s unlikely the county planning commission would approve the plans before the groundbreaking date of October 8. For that reason, he said he expects the ceremony that day to be largely symbolic, and major construction won’t begin until all entitlements become official.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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