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Judge allows LDS Church to join Heber Valley temple lawsuit

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

The legal fight over the future of the Heber Valley temple will continue. A judge has returned two key decisions.

A judge has ruled the lawsuit over the temple plans can go forward – and now, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will join the dispute between Wasatch County and a small group of residents.

Fourth District Court Judge Jennifer Mabey denied the county’s motion to dismiss and granted the church’s motion to join the lawsuit Tuesday, April 30, several weeks after hearing arguments from all sides.

The church plans to build an 88,000-square-foot temple on an 18-acre site on Center Street just outside the Heber City limits. It’s expected to measure 200 feet at its tallest point. The Wasatch County Council approved plans for the temple last November.

Soon after, a group of neighbors filed a lawsuit against the county. They argued the church should have gone through a different approval process and claimed the development agreement encroaches on their property rights, disrupting their views and adding noise and light pollution which would affect their privacy.

In its request for dismissal, the county claimed resident complaints about the temple’s potential impact on their homes lacked merit. Mabey disagreed, ruling the neighbors have reasonable concerns to sue.

The church asked to intervene as a defendant in the case back in January. In April, the church’s attorney Tanner Camp told the judge it wants to represent its own interests instead of relying on the county to fight the case, and county attorney Jon Woodard acknowledged church and county priorities may not always align.

“It’s very much a situation where a change of the priorities of the county manager or a change of budget could directly affect the county’s position and pursuance of this case,” he said.

In her ruling, Mabey agreed the church could join the lawsuit.

Now, church attorneys have until May 21 to respond.

Lawyers representing the residents, Wasatch County and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not respond to KPCW’s requests for comment Thursday.

A spokesperson for the church declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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