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Hearing on controversial Lone Mountain LDS temple moved to May

Updated April 6, 2024 - 7:29 am

A hearing on a controversial proposal to build a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in the northwest valley has been moved to next month.

A spokesperson with the city of Las Vegas confirmed Thursday that the hearing, which was originally set for a Las Vegas Planning Commission meeting this Tuesday, had been moved to May 14.

The change, which was requested by the applicant, was made for efficiency, according to Bud Stoddard, president of the Las Vegas Nevada Lone Mountain Stake.

“The purpose of the abeyance request was simply to allow all three parts of the application to be heard in the same meeting on May 14,” Stoddard said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday. The Lone Mountain Stake includes approximately 3,000 church members.

The application, if approved, would clear the way for the construction of a 70,000-square-foot temple with a 216-foot steeple on a parcel of land between Grand Canyon Drive and Tee Pee Lane.

Plans for the temple were announced in October 2022. It would be the second in Las Vegas; the first temple opened in 1989 near the base of Frenchman Mountain.

Stoddard said population growth and an increase in church membership has created a need for a second temple on the west side of the valley. The choice to build on the nearly 20-acre parcel near the foot of Lone Mountain wasn’t made locally but rather by the president of the church, Stoddard said.

The church released renderings of the proposed temple in February, about the same time local residents say they were invited to a community meeting about the project. It was then that they learned of the building’s size and that the development would include over 500 parking spaces and a meeting house, where Sunday services and other community meetings would be held.

Neighborhood concern

News of the proposal’s large footprint has been met with concern from neighborhood members.

In mid-March, a community member started a petition to oppose proposed changes to zoning codes that would allow the temple to be built. The petition had more than 2,700 signatures as of Friday evening.

Other members of the neighborhood, including Northwest Rural Preservation Association president Brigitte Solvie, say the increased traffic and lighting from the temple will impact their quality of life.

“I’m concerned that the property will be developed with such intensity for an area that is an established rural neighborhood that it will create so much conflict with traffic, light pollution, the height of the building … that it will just not, it won’t reflect well for the neighborhood,” Solvie said.

Solvie said the area is used by many walkers and equestrians and that the potential for increased traffic is “a serious concern.”

For others, the sheer size of the building is cause for concern.

“It’s not that we’re against a church in our neighborhood,” said association treasurer Erin DeLoe. “But there’s no other church in our neighborhood that’s 216 feet tall and has 514 parking spaces. It’s not even close.”

Some community members also raised concerns about a recent change made to city zoning ordinances approved by city council members in mid-March that, among other changes, allows parcels zoned as “Civic” to be used for churches or houses of worship. The church has submitted an application to change zoning for the parcel to “Civic,” which will come before the planning commission in May.

Solvie said many neighborhood members are feeling “a lot of angst.”

“A lot of negative feelings because surely they’re feeling steamrolled. They’re feeling unimportant. They’re feeling small. They’re feeling totally discounted,” she said.

Also community support

Stoddard said the church recognizes the concerns of neighbors, but he said there is support in the community for the project.

“As a resident of the area, I can tell you that there is actually tremendous support in this area for the proposed temple to be built exactly the way it is proposed,” he said. “As part of the land-use process, the church will be evaluating ways to try to address concerns by the neighbors.”

When asked about traffic concerns, Stoddard said the current Las Vegas Temple doesn’t have traffic congestion.

But Matt DeLoe said the proposal could ruin many of the parts that drew residents to the area.

“This area’s a sanctuary from the city,” DeLoe said. “This isn’t their goal, but by building this, proposing this, they will erode the things we love — the quiet, the no traffic, the no light pollution.”

In a statement, City Councilwoman Francis Allen-Palenske, who represents the area where the proposed temple is to be built, said she was reading comments and emails that had been sent to her regarding the proposal.

“I live near the site for the proposed LDS temple and the weight of this decision is heavy with both the excitement and concerns of our community,” Allen-Palenske said in an emailed statement. “I hope that each of you can remain civil, debate the facts, and keep our words kind. We are all proud Las Vegans, who deeply love this City and our way of life.”

The planning commission hearing will be held at 6 p.m. May 14 in the City Council chambers located at 495 Main St.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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