Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah

LDS Church hits brakes on request to change Heber Valley dark sky rules

Your browser doesn’t support HTML5 audio

[FILE] Temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often shine lights on their exterior walls, as does this one in Boston, Massachusetts. That wouldn't be allowed under Wasatch County code.
David Crowther/Legacy Images

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is putting its request to change local dark sky rules on hold for the time being.

After requesting in November to change Wasatch County’s outdoor lighting code, the LDS Church still has no date to appear in front of the county’s planning commission.

The church is in the planning phase for a new temple to be built east of Heber City on Center Street. It held a groundbreaking ceremony in October but still has to clear administrative hurdles before any construction begins.

Wasatch County Planning Director Doug Smith said the church is aware of community resistance to changing the lighting code. He said the church plans to prepare renderings showing how bright their proposed lights would be for the planning commission to consider.

“They're going to provide some renderings of the proposed temple,” he said, “as well as existing temples that they can determine the lumen counts and the Kelvin temperature of the lighting on the temple and be able to provide those renderings to us, and we'll see where we go from there.”

Smith said the church hasn’t indicated when it will provide that information.

The LDS Church communications office didn’t respond to KPCW’s request for information.

LDS temples commonly shine bright exterior lights upwards. In November, records obtained by KPCW showed the church proposed to change Wasatch County dark sky rules to allow uplighting.

The church asked that exterior lights be allowed to shine upward until 10 p.m., and be turned on again at 5:30 a.m. It also proposed allowing builders to get conditional use permits to allow uplighting.

Such lighting would violate the current county code adopted in 2002 intended to preserve dark sky.

Wasatch County resident Ty Hill said he looks forward to the opening of the temple, which he’ll be able to see directly from his house.

However, he said there are concerns among neighbors about lights shining through windows and diminishing night sky viewing.

“I believe that there is a need to address that so that none of the neighbors have to have blackouts on their windows,” Hill said. “If I'm going to have something be bright, I think a beautiful structure like that is fantastic. It's not that we're already, right now, light-pollution free, so I don't think there's a need to add to that, but I think if it is going to be added to that, our hope is that it's minimal.”

Amending the county lighting code requires approval by the county council. Before that, the planning commission would review the church’s request and make a recommendation to the county council.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Email