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LDS church announces new temples as Heber Valley awaits lawsuit decision

President Russell Nelson greets the crowd at the Heber Valley Utah Temple groundbreaking on Saturday, October 8, 2022
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President Russell Nelson greets the crowd at the Heber Valley Utah Temple groundbreaking on Saturday, October 8, 2022

Plans for 15 new temples were announced this weekend during the April general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Meanwhile, Heber Valley temple construction plans are pending litigation.

Amid an announcement Sunday, April 7, that 15 new temples will be built around the world, local lawyers continue to spar over the future of the Heber Valley temple.

Church president Russell Nelson announced the Heber temple plans during the faith’s October 2021 general conference, sparking considerable public debate – and multiple lawsuits – in Wasatch County in the two and a half years since.

A group of four residents filed a lawsuit shortly after the county council unanimously voted to approve plans for the 88,000-square-foot temple in November 2023. Although the church already owned the 18-acre property, the area was only zoned for agricultural uses or housing.

The county council used a legislative development agreement to grant the church a zoning exception for the land, which sits just outside Heber City. The residents’ lawsuit contends that process is invalid.

Progress on the temple’s construction will not move forward until the litigation is resolved.

In January, the church filed a motion to intervene as a defendant alongside the county. A motion to dismiss the lawsuit is also pending.

On Tuesday afternoon, April 9, a judge is expected to decide both motions.

Meanwhile, at the general conference, the Heber Valley temple approval process was cited as an example of faith. Elder Neil Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told believers Sunday afternoon to be inspired by young people in Wasatch County who advocated for the temple’s approval.

“300 youth filled the adjoining park to show their support for the proposed temple,” he said. “One young man, speaking to government leaders in an open forum, courageously explained, ‘I am hoping to be married in this temple. The temple will help me to keep myself clean and pure.’ Another described the temple as a symbol of light and hope.”

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, temples are sacred spaces, where believers participate in the church’s highest ordinances, including marriage ceremonies and posthumous baptisms.

During this April’s general conference, Nelson announced Lehi and West Jordan are among the 15 locations where new temples will be built. That brings Utah to a total of 30 existing and planned LDS temples.