Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Proposed Phoenix LDS Temple: First, They Didn't Like The Spire, Then They Didn't Like The Lighting...Now They're Complaining About The Parking

Note: All posts on the Phoenix Temple available HERE, with the most recent post displaying first.

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


Anonymous said...

Sigh. I guess I should be happy, as I have been compared to Hitler and Al Quaeda having someone assume that I may just be "unsophisticated" is a step up. From our first meeting with LDS representatives, we have sought compromise on the same 3 issues. Through all of the eharing process on the original design we were concerned about the same 3 issues. Four Times we offered compromises that asked them for concessions on the same three issues. Today, with the new design we are concerned about the same 3 issues: Lighting,Height and Traffic. Excessive street congestion and insufficient parking are both manifestations of the same issue: Traffic. If anyone wants to know the truth and not just what someone writes who has never met me, give me a call and I would be happy to discuss our position and tell you about the LDS Members that are my friends and part of our group.

Scott Anderson

Anonymous said...

I believe what you are saying Scott, and I apologize for any personal attacks or threats you may have received. Such behavior is not acceptable.

However, as mentioned by the article, you have been losing a lot of credibility with your position, whether it be your fault or the fault of the media. You claim that the three issues have always been lighting, height, and traffic, and yet all three of those issues have been addressed multiple times [by people who know a lot more about traffic, etc. than you].

I support your right to protest, but might I suggest using unbiased evidence if you want real support.

Out of curiosity, what are your proposed solutions for perceived deficiencies in traffic, lighting, or height? (Understanding that it is impossible to agree to an individual group's demands without diverging from the demands of other groups)


Anonymous said...


You seem like a nice guy, as do the vast majority of LDS members I have met and spoken with. I would be happy to share with you evidence that irrefutably supports my claims. This includes informaiton from the City, from LDS representatives and from our neighborhood organization. I can provide you with the details of the 4 compromises we have offered and the Church's response each time. I can also show you how the City has not followed their own parking calculation ordinance. Our "unsophisticated" look at the parking issue included our own traffic engineer (with 30 years more experience than the City's traffic engineer) and our legal team. I myself started volunteering for the City Planning Department over 25 years ago. Note that the city has eliminated some of their most experienced city planners with budget cuts and staffing cuts these past years. All this I will gladly provide to you in the interest of helping you to better understand the full details of the issue. Just send me an email at


Anonymous said...

This has all the signs of one man's desire to object to and stop thousands of members of the LDS faith to worship in a temple that has not only been approved through all legal processes but will clearly add value to the community in which it is built. The LDS Church has placated Mr Anderson long enough. This is land that they purchased legally and have been given full approval to build on. Objecting to this is objecting to these member's 1st Amendment rights to free worship.

Anonymous said...

Did Mr Anderson "approve" the Wet n' Wild Water Park near his home? Or perhaps the Victory Lane Sports Park? These are the true eye-sores of Glendale and provide more light pollution and traffic than an LDS temple.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Scott was gracious enough to send me neighborhood correspondence about the temple, and I had an enjoyable time reading it. He warned me that I would find some of it inflammatory, which I wasn't too worried about. Mainly I was just looking for the "irrefutable proof" that supported his claims. I didn't find any.

What I did find was the same story that has been perpetuated on the azcentral comment forums. Scott Anderson's group felt offended by the developers who he felt ignored their concerns. He rejected compromises from the LDS church when they were seeking a height variance on the original design.

Although he uses the word compromise in almost every newsletter, he never offered a single compromise since the redesign, in that the neighborhood never offered any concessions besides their "acceptance." They have made demands, and those demands have lessened some, but they never came in the form of any 'compromise.'

Also, his proof for more required parking comes under the false assumption that the temple has a 750 person capacity. He further states that the purpose in challenging the parking is to send the developers "back to the drawing board" or find a different location for the temple.


Anonymous said...

Scott Anderson,

Be honest, the reason you are protesting the construction of the LDS Temple has nothing to do with "Residence Zoning" at all, but a misguided prejudice against the LDS Church or religion in general. If you were truly intent on zoning laws in the community, you would have made a bigger fuss when Water World was expanded to the largest water park in AZ. Nothing. And yet, this is when you decide to fight for your rights. Right? Who are you kidding, besides yourself.

Just think of this, when you try to sleep at night; you are opposing a place of worship, that focuses to uplift, nurture, and inspire it's church members to be better members of society. So, why are you really opposed to the construction of the LDS Temple? BE HONEST to yourself and your neighbors.

Lastly, you need to apply the Golden Rule more in more in your life my friend. Maybe if you did, you wouldn't be so bent on persecuting a Church for something as ridiculous as "residential zoning" and "traffic."