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Las Vegas LDS temple plan scrutinized; city’s decision far from final

Updated May 7, 2024 - 9:38 pm

A controversial proposal for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple near Lone Mountain has a ways to go in its quest for approval, Las Vegas officials said Tuesday night.

City Councilwoman Francis Allen-Palenske and Community Development Director Seth Floyd said during an informational virtual forum that the proposal has yet to be approved.

“We had a couple of questions about whether the final decision has been made, and the answer is no,” Floyd reminded attendees.

The planning commission will take up consideration of the proposal next week and is expected to make a recommendation to the City Council. The proposal will then come before the council for a final decision, which will likely occur in July or August, said Allen-Palenske, who represents the area where the temple would be built.

Concerns from neighborhood residents

The proposal for the 70,000-square-foot temple, which will include a 216-foot steeple, has been met with pushback from neighborhood residents who say the increased traffic and lighting from the temple will affect their quality of life.

Floyd addressed some of the concerns raised by area residents in the past, including questions about whether a 2016 interlocal agreement between the city and the county that bars industrial or commercial development, or residential development over a certain size to be built in the area.

“It doesn’t address churches or houses of worship,” Floyd said, referring to the interlocal agreement.

Because other parts of city code allow churches in residential areas, the interlocal agreement does not preclude a church from being built, he said.

While Floyd said his office has received several questions about whether the temple project site is located within a designated rural neighborhood, he noted the site isn’t located in one of those areas.

Floyd also emphasized that the city doesn’t own the land, but rather accepts applications from private property owners, which the city then evaluates according to existing code.

“The process that we followed on this one is identical to the process that we follow on any application that we receive,” he said.

As for the height of the building, Floyd said city code does not include steeple height in its consideration. The height of the three-story building without the steeple is 68 feet.

He specified that civic zoning, which is the zoning change being proposed for the land parcel, allows for houses of worship.

Floyd also addressed questions about why the requirements surrounding civic zoning changed just ahead of the proposal, a concern raised by some neighborhood residents.

The change limited the entities allowed to use the zoning and loosened development standards for those using civic zoning, a change initiated by staff more than a year ago, Floyd said. \

‘No shortcuts to listening and learning’

Allen-Palenske told attendees she’s taken “no shortcuts” to learning about the proposal.

“I have taken meetings with opponents, supporters, lawyers, land planners, and anyone who’s had something to help educate me so that I can make the most informed decision possible,” she said. “I have taken no shortcuts to listening and learning.”

The proposed site would have 514 parking spaces, over 300 more than required by city code. It would also include a 16,000-square-foot meeting house, a grounds building and a pavilion.

If approved, it would be the second LDS temple in Las Vegas. The first temple is located near the base of Frenchman Mountain and opened in 1989.

Church officials argue that an increase in church membership has created a need for the temple.

The planning commission will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Las Vegas City Council chambers located at 495 Main St.

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

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