Although neighborhood residents who oppose the placement of the proposed Phoenix Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their neck of the woods repeatedly claim they have no axe to grind against the Church, one must begin to wonder if that's really true, since there seems to be no end to the objections they dream up.
First, they didn't like the height of the temple and its spire. So the Church lowered the base height of the building from 40 feet to 30 feet. Then, they objected to the lighting, so the Church said they would impose limits upon the length of time the temple would be illuminated each day.
Now, opponents of the temple are complaining about parking -- specifically, whether or not the number of parking spaces effectively matches expected usage of the temple. The Arizona Republic describes the critical attributes of this new dispute reasonably well:
-- A local city ordinance that regulates parking for places of worship and public assembly requires one parking space per three seats.
-- The Church proposes 394 parking spaces based on the size of the temple's largest room, which is projected to be used the most
-- Neighborhood organizer Scott Anderson says the numbers don't add up. Anderson claims he counted 133 rooms in the temple rendering, while the city calculated parking using only 25 rooms.
Anderson also claims that when the Church redesigned the temple to lower the overall height, they doubled the size of the temple. But Anderson provides no evidence to support this contention; the redesign may have just traded vertical space for horizontal space.
So the parking dispute effectively centers around the city's interpretation of the number of applicable rooms and whether or not the redesign actually increased the overall square footage of the temple.
Meanwhile, Phoenix Temple spokeswoman Jennifer Wheeler claims that parking exceeds that which is required by city code. She notes that architects and engineers are still finalizing the plans for the temple, and that the plans will be submitted for vetting as part of the permitting process. Read the LDS Church's information page about the Phoenix Temple HERE.
In the comments section, Scott Anderson continues to insist that he is not driven by any anti-Mormon bias. In response to someone identified as "Maximum", Scott writes (after the jump):
ScottLittleDV Jan-15 @ 10:33 AM:
Maximum: You are so wrong about so much. You keep implying that I am the only one opposing this issue. I recognize that you like to have a person you can single out as the "bad guy" to help keep everything in your world "black and white". The reality is that we are an organization with decisions made by an executive leadership committee and that we represent thousands of the surrounding neighbors. I and many of my neighbors have worked for the past 25 years on every zoning and development issue in our valley. You have no understanding of all the people involved and you are oblivious to the fact that the Temple issue is just the latest issue to come up in our valley.
Thanks in part to your efforts to single me out as the "bad guy" rather than discussing our differing points of view, I have had a number of threats against me and my family. You hide behind your anonymous status here and continue your snipes. You have no idea what courage it takes for a person to step forward and put yourself out there. You seem to ignore that every time I have given a speech or spoken, I have repeatedly stated that this is not about the Mormon religion or LDS Church and it's members: they are our neighbors and our friends and they deserve our respect. It is about a building and it's impact to the surrounding neighborhood.
Regardless of your actions, I forgive you and harbor no ill will towards you.
In response, Maximum writes:
maximum Jan-15 @ 2:22 PM:
Scott, the only reason I mention you by name is because you [are] the one named in the article. You are also the author of the propaganda newsletter that continues to spew exaggerations and misinformation about the temple. I know you're just trying to gain sympathy by claiming to be the poor little neighborhood that's being repressed by the "Big Bad Church" in Salt Lake. You also sound like your group is the voice of all the neighbors but you're not. You claim hundreds of neighbors wrote letters to the church in Salt Lake opposing the temple. Maybe hundreds of letters were written but they obviously they were not sent since only six actually showed up. Or were hundreds written by six individuals to try to make it seem like more people were opposed than really were?
I'm sorry for people's misguided actions but don't go blaming me for any threats against you. People do dumb things and they are on both sides of the issue. Yes, I hide behind my anonymous ID because I don't want people from your group protesting outside my home or place of worship. You said your protest is to "embarrass, shame and humiliate the Utah leadership for the way they have treated our neighborhood." If that's your goal, why don't you charter a bus and drive your group to Salt Lake to protest? You know the Salt Lake leaders don't live here or attend church at the meetinghouse in Pinnacle Peak Rd, don't you? I doubt it's a coincidence that your protest will be at the same time Sunday worship services are held. All you're going to do is provoke the very Mormon neighbors you claim to respect. Protests like this are very disrespectful and certainly not something a "friend" would do.
I would admire your courage to step forward more if you could manage to stick to facts instead of exaggerations and misinformation. I know you are just trying to make people distrust the church as part of your attempt to get people to donate to your lawsuit fund. It must be difficult to drum up support using facts, otherwise you wouldn't feel the need to spew your rhetoric. You use terms like "compromise" to describe the demands your group is placing on the church. Compromise means give and take from both sides. The church made many compromises during the re-zoning process but your group didn't give an inch and said "NO" at every turn. Then you have the audacity to claim the church is being a bad neighbor.
Regardless of your actions I too forgive you and hold no ill will toward you. I also hope any Latter-day Saint would do the same. They should know better than to make threats toward people they have disagreements with. For these people's actions I am truly sorry.
I'd like to believe that Scott Anderson nurtures no anti-Mormon bias, but Scott is missing two important points. First, the dispute has been simmering for at least 15 months; hark back to my first post on this issue in November 2009. Second, it seems like every time one objection is resolved, another one surfaces. Imagine how Scott Anderson would feel if his wife nagged him about the same issue for 15 months, surfacing a new objection each time he made a compromise to resolve a previous objection. He would probably grow tired of it after a while.
And this is why Mormons and their sympathizers are beginning to suspect Scott Anderson's true motives. The question for Anderson: Are there any circumstances at all under which the presence of the temple in the neighborhood would be acceptable to them?
So although local officials and the Phoenix City Council have been more fair-minded and supportive of the temple, at some point, the LDS Church may be faced with the possibility of re-visiting the notion of building it in this neighborhood. If they continue to pour money into fighting a public relations battle which has diminishing chances of success, it may not only be a waste of resources, but could actually alienate Scott Anderson and his cohorts against Mormonism itself. It is quite possible that Scott Anderson and his cohorts simply lack the sophistication to appreciate the benefits that a temple can bring to a neighborhood. Undoubtedly, there are other neighborhoods in the Phoenix metro area which would better appreciate a temple.
This does not make them bad people. Some of the most honorable people in the world lack sophistication. There are many solid citizens who simply don't relate to the finer things in life -- such as gourmet dining, classical music, luxury cars, art museums, or temples. Yet if you get into trouble, they'll give you the shirt off their back. Such people will populate the terrestrial kingdom in the next world -- the HONORABLE men and women of this world who are neither holy (celestial) nor unholy (telestial). So we want to avoid the temptation of casting Scott Anderson and his cohorts as "the bad guys".
Here are links to some previous Arizona Republic stories about the Phoenix temple
• Redesigned Temple will cover more of site
• New north Phoenix temple design still has critics
• Neighborhood to have meeting on height of Mormon temple
• Mormon Church will lower height of Phoenix temple
• Opposition mounts against proposed temple
• Mormon officials want to work with critics
• Mormon Church plans new Phoenix temple