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Besides location, Heber LDS temple details unclear

Heber-Temple-Exterior.jpg
Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints
An artist's rendering offers an early look at the Heber Valley temple.

News that a temple will be built in the eastern part of the Heber Valley has sparked questions about what will happen next.

Now that Heber Valley residents know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plans to build a temple east of Heber City, neighbors are curious how that will impact them.

An announcement by the Church on Monday declared it will be built on Center Street. It also said the building will be 88,000 square feet on an 18-acre lot, and a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for October 8.

HeberValleyUtahTemple.jpg
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The planned temple location is at 1400 East Center Street, across the street from an LDS Church stake center and southwest of Red Ledges.

Wasatch County Planning Director Doug Smith doubts that ceremony will mark the actual first day of construction.

He says the Church currently has no entitlements from the county to build, and it needs a conditional use permit and site plan approval to get started. The Wasatch County Planning Commission can approve those in a public meeting. He guesses the earliest that would happen is November.

According to Smith, the planning commission’s approval isn’t a foregone conclusion — at least when it comes to certain details like the planned three-story height and lighting.

“We do have a dark sky lighting code that requires full cutoff on lighting, street lighting, parking lot lighting,” Smith says. “The big thing here is going to be — I'm not sure how they light the temples. I'm assuming it's an up-light, so we'll have to get into that discussion and how they deal with that.”

The LDS Church’s media department didn’t respond to a request for specific plans for the Heber Valley temple in time for this report.

The temple’s future site is at 1400 East Center Street, across from an LDS Church stake center.

Many self-identifying members of the Church have praised the location of the temple for its proximity to neighborhoods and open spaces. Others have raised questions about its potential impacts.

Some worry the building will create light pollution, block people’s views of the Heber Valley or increase traffic.

Mitchel Burns is the chief operating officer of Red Ledges, a home and resort community just north of the temple site. He expected the Church to choose a more visible location for the temple, like along U.S. 40 near the Utah Valley University Wasatch Campus.

He says he’s heard mixed feedback from his residents so far, and until he sees a detailed site plan, it’s hard to know how valid anyone’s concerns are.

“We just don't know anything about it,” Burns says. “We don't know how tall it is, I don't know where it is on the parcel, we don’t know what way it’s facing. I think there's going to be some people that will be super excited to have it there, and certainly there'll be other people who will be like, ‘Oh, hey, does that impede my view? Is that my view corridor?’ We just don't know yet.”

He says Smith and the county have already communicated well with Red Ledges residents, and he expects the LDS Church and its temple to be a “good neighbor.”

Smith estimates after final approval, construction will take two to three years, but he says he’s unsure because he’s never been involved with this type of project.

He also anticipates it’ll bring heavier traffic, both during and after construction.

Burns says construction may not make a significant difference on its own, as there are already other construction projects planned in the area.

On the other hand, he says residents near the site are eager to learn more about how the project will affect their daily routines.

“Uncertainty is always uncomfortable,” Burns says, “so we’ve just got to be patient and see what happens here.”

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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