by KATHIE HUNT
The LDS Church received approval Tuesday to expand its mining operation in Little Cottonwood Canyon, making it easier to complete the General Assembly Hall on time.
After more than a year of opposition, the Salt Lake County Planning Commission approved the church’s proposal to mine for granite in the canyon. Residents near Cottonwood Canyon were concerned about moving the mining closer to their homes.
“Extension of the quarry where the granite rock will make it easier to extract the stone,” said Tom Hanson, project manager for the general assembly building.
The church plans to have the hall open for the 170th Annual General Conference in April 2000, said Dale Bills, church public affairs spokesperson.
“We are looking forward to having the magnificent new facility to allow many more Latter-day Saints to participate in conference and to continue spreading the gospel,” Bills said.
Workers are trying to finish as much of the exterior of the building as possible before winter. As for the interior, it is already two-thirds finished, said Bills. About 1,000 workers are helping with the project at this time.
The finished ceiling is going in right now, Hanson said.
The quarry is further up the canyon from the quarry where granite was obtained when the Salt Lake temple was built.
Though the assembly hall will be open for the April conference, it will not be dedicated until October, Bills said.
The groundbreaking for the assembly hall was held in July 1997.
Last year, opposition caused the church a two month delay, said Marc Mascaro, legal counselor for the project.
Opposition came from home owners near the quarry and hikers. The Access Utah Group, formed by the hikers, is now supportive of the work. Two of the three home owners also support the work, Mascaro said.
Once work is done at the quarry, workers will regrate the ground and replant.