Wasatch County Council votes in favor of plans for new temple

Rendering of the recently approved Heber City temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The temple’s plans were approved by the Wasatch County Council on the evening of Nov. 8, 2023. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The Wasatch County Council voted to approve plans for the new temple in Heber City on the evening of Nov. 8.

The vote to approve plans for the new Heber Valley temple came two weeks after a similar hearing on Oct. 25 where the county planning commission recommended approval for the temple with a few conditions.

The public hearing for the vote on the temple plans was held at the Senior Citizen Center in Wasatch County. Public participation was available via in-person attendance, Zoom or email. A recording of the public meeting is available to view on the Wasatch County website.

The Wasatch County Council voted in favor of the legislative development agreement, plat approval for land and site plans for the temple. The vote was unanimous with all seven members voting in favor of each item.

Jason Sandburg represented The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his request for consideration for approval of the temple plans during the meeting.

Each item was presented and voted on independently during the council meeting. Item 1, the legislative development agreement was presented by Wasatch Deputy County Attorney Jon Woodard. Item 2 and Item 3, the plat approval and site approval, were presented by the Wasatch County Planning Director Doug Smith.

Artist rendition of the Heber City Temple and the surrounding area. The approved plans allow for 454 parking stalls and a large amount of landscaping. (Wasatch County Council)

The development site of the Heber Valley Temple has faced pushback from some members of the community.

“There’s been a lot of public discussion over this item as everyone is aware,” Smith said. “We’ve received a large number of emails and concerns over the building.”

Smith explained most of the complaints the county has received from the community had to deal with the size and lighting of the temple. Many citizens were concerned about preserving the area’s dark sky zone.

Curtis Miner, CEO and principle architect of CORE Architecture, spoke at the meeting as a representative for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He spoke on the different architectural features and a number of revisions made to the building.

He described the history of religious buildings and some of the guiding principles for the design of the Heber Valley Temple. Miner also described some of the changes and deviations made from the initial design of the temple, including changes to better comply with county light ordinances.

“The wall-wash lighting approach is typically used by the Church, you have seen that many times where the architectural lighting is applied to the building in a roughly uniform manner, it results in a fairly bright building when you look at it from the environment,” Miner said. “On this project, we were approved to use an alternate method where … we minimize the light on wall surfaces.”

Rendition of the approved lighting for the Heber Valley temple. The lighting focuses on the architectural features of the building instead of lighting up the entire wall, meaning this will be one of the dimmest temples in the world, according to Miner. (Wasatch County Council)

After all three items were presented to the Wasatch County Council, the public was offered a chance to speak on behalf of the issue. Many people voiced comments for and against the building of the temple.

One such voice in support of building the temple was retired Judge Stuart Waldrip.

“The work’s been done, the experts have been consulted, the adjustments have been made, the recommendation by the planning commission has been made in a positive way, and now it’s time for you to make a decision,” Waldrip said. “Thousands of people who prayed and hoped for a temple here now trust you to make the right decision.”

After the public spoke, the council voted unanimously to pass each item. The temple plot is set to be 17.23 acres once dedicated and about 44% of the lot will be landscaped with 523 evergreen and deciduous trees and 4,581 evergreen and deciduous five-gallon shrubs.

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