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Residents sue Wasatch County over Heber Valley temple approval

Guests ceremonially turn the dirt at the Heber Valley temple groundbreaking Oct. 8, 2022.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Guests ceremonially turn the dirt at the Heber Valley temple groundbreaking Oct. 8, 2022.

Residents are suing Wasatch County, arguing the recently approved plans for the Heber Valley temple are illegal.

Since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its plans to construct a temple in Wasatch County in 2021, residents opposed to the plans have been filing legal challenges.

Now, a group of citizens from Red Ledges, the neighborhood across the street from the temple site, is suing the county, saying its decisions at a Nov. 8 hearing were illegal.

The 18-acre site is on Center Street, just over the Heber City line in Wasatch County. The 88,000-square-foot building is expected to reach heights of 200 feet at its tallest point.

While other legal action so far has focused on the outdoor lighting ordinance approved in April 2023, this lawsuit goes after the temple plans themselves.

It asks the court to reverse and vacate the county’s approval of the legislative development agreement (LDA), plat and site plan.

It says those items are invalid and unenforceable because they violate state law, Wasatch County code and the general plan. The temple plans’ use of an LDA, rather than applying for a conditional use permit, is a key aspect of the suit.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert Mansfield, has described the temple project as spot zoning.

“In order to see this project to fruition, the county really ignored its own ordinances and its own procedures and policies,” he said.

He said he thinks his clients can make a strong case against the county.

“We’re going to move for a quick judgment on this,” he said. “We think what the county did is improper, and it should be stopped by the court.”

The four plaintiffs did not wish to comment on the lawsuit, instead communicating through Mansfield.

The county’s deputy attorney also declined to comment.

A related lawsuit, filed by resident group Save Wasatch Back Dark Skies to oppose the county lighting ordinance, is still pending. In mid-November, the group asked to amend its legal challenge. This week, the county asked the court not to permit the revised lawsuit to move forward.

KPCW will continue to follow developments in both lawsuits. The county has three weeks to respond to the latest suit.

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