Balloons make a statement around Provo neighborhoods

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More than 80 balloons were distributed throughout Provo neighborhoods Saturday at the kickoff event to petition BYU and Provo City to reconsider the nine-story MTC building.

Residents from around Provo came to pick up balloons and sign the petition, while other people who had previously requested balloons had them delivered by volunteers. The petition itself is also available in an online version.

Paul Evans, the chair of the Provo’s Pleasant View Neighborhood, said the balloons will be part of the ongoing effort to have people sign the petition. While there is no target number of signatures they need, Evans did say having 500 signatures or more will draw attention from city officials.

Evans said in the past there was a two-way dialogue with MTC officials, such as when the delivery routes to the MTC were being decided, “but on this its just been one way.”

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Lorie Johnson and her mother Ruth Johnson take balloons to local residents.
Lorie Johnson came to sign the petition with her mother. Johnson said she was so concerned with the effect the new building could have on property values she talked to a real estate agent.

Neighbors all had different reasons for why they were supporting the petition.

Anne Snow, 88,  retired in the Pleasant View Nieghborhood in 1996 with her husband. She said her home will be in the shadow of the new building and that its size is intimidating.

“I’m not saying they don’t need it because the missionary force is growing, but they don’t need to put it where they are putting it and crowd it,” Snow said.

Neighbor Wendy Bell also agreed the residents do not want to hinder the MTC, they just want compromise.

“There are different alternatives that can please the MTC and that can please the neighborhood,” Bell said.

Kieth Lawrence, another local resident, came with pictures of the view from his backyard of the MTC and temple. He said he was not sure how the new building will effect his view and none of the digital mock ups show the landscape during the winter when the trees are bare and the view of the temple is usually unhindered.

“People stay here for generations, they reinvest in their property,” Johnson said. “We don’t want this to turn into something like south campus. We want it to stay a single-family, owner-occupied residential.”

She also talked about the history of the neighborhood and its relationship with the MTC.

“This has always been residential, it was residential before the MTC came,” Johnson said. “We agreed not to stop them because they made promises to us and we support the MTC. We support the missionary program. All we want them is to work some compromise.”

Volunteer, Jaelyn Evans, said this issue is not a religious one at all.

“This is totally a city land issue,” Evans said. “It has nothing to do with the church, it’s just another developer.”

Charlotte England, another resident, also said the new building does not effect her beliefs either and the neighborhood made that clear through a letter they sent.

“The first letter that was sent to the church headquarters said this is a secular matter,” England said. “And I totally believe that. It doesn’t reflect on my testimony that I am against the nine-story high building in my neighborhood.”

The balloons are reusable so the residents can refill them and keep making the statement clear that they do not want the proposed building in their neighborhood.

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