Sunday, June 5, 2011

Groundbreaking For Phoenix LDS Temple Proceeds After Agreement Reached With Phoenix Property Rights Coalition

Good news! The long political battle between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a property rights group in north Phoenix has come to an end, and construction on the long-awaited Phoenix Temple will begin. On Saturday June 4th, 2011, the LDS Church held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the proposed temple. Officially representing the LDS Church were Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elders William R. Walker, Michael D. Pickerd and Jim L. Wright of the church's Quorums of the Seventy, and Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. Sister Dibb is also a daughter of President Thomas S. Monson. Local civic leaders attending included Ken Bennett, Arizona's secretary of state; Steve Court, state majority leader; and Thelda Williams, Phoenix vice mayor.

After a Phoenix zoning appeal board unanimously determined on May 12th that the Church planned enough parking spaces for the proposed temple, the property rights group briefly considered appealing the case to the Superior Court. But cooler heads prevailed, and the two sides went back to the table. The problems were finally resolved via a Memorandum of Understanding which resulted from a May 23rd meeting between LDS Church representatives and the Phoenix Property Rights Coalition. For two years, the Coalition aired consistent concerns about parking, traffic, lighting, building size and tower height. It seemed like every time one concern was resolved, another difficulty would surface. Thus even though Coalition representatives repeatedly stated they had no axe to grind against the LDS Church in principle, some people understandably began to become skeptical of their motives. One local anti-Mormon group, Concerned Christians, tried to exploit the dispute by distributing anti-Mormon DVDs in the Phoenix Metro Area, including over by the site of the proposed Gilbert Temple.

The history of the dispute between the LDS Church and the Phoenix Property Rights Coalition is more specifically discussed in this series of posts, to include applicable media links. A shorter summary of the dispute authored by the Church is also available HERE.

Some of the highlights of the agreement:

-- Create a steering committee to revisit traffic, parking and other issues. This will include placing a traffic light at Pinnacle Peak Road and 51st Avenue, as well as widening Pinnacle Peak Road as soon as possible. This was a major concern of the Coalition.

-- Limit the temple's open-house period to 30 days, not including the dedication services, and using a reservation/ticket system for the open house and dedication.

-- Turn off all lights projecting above the 30-foot roofline at 10:15 p.m., with parking lot lights to remain on to aid late-night temple patrons.

-- Reduce the temple spire's height an additional foot (now 10 feet lower than the original design) with the spire narrower and less bulky than the original design.

Both sides expressed appreciation for the efforts made by the other to reach resolution regarding this project. Both sides also acknowledge the desire to repair any damage done from the prior dispute and work towards building a friendly, communicative, and cooperative relationship.

The temple, expected to be completed in two years, will be the fifth in the state of Arizona. Three currently operating temples are located in Mesa, Snowflake and the Gila Valley, with a fourth under construction in Gilbert, in the southeastern section of the metro valley. With over 400,000 LDS members in Arizona, the need for this temple has been well-established.

In the final analysis, only the residents of the affected neighborhood are best qualified to judge the validity of their complaints. What's important now is that the issue is resolved, local residents seem to be satisfied, and construction can proceed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Phoenix for over 10 years it is interesting that no one complained about the new ball park stadium and how many people were displaced. No one complains about any new development. Yet the LDS want to do something the anti's come out of the woodwork. With love of course, while they spew hate.