After months of deliberation, the proposed temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ Commercial Site Plan was approved at the City of Cody Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board’s regular meeting, but with conditions.
Emotions were high during the meeting, held at the Cody Auditorium on Tuesday, August 8, as the the P&Z Board passed the Commercial Site Plan without the height conditions in a 4-to-2 vote.
Prior to the approval, there were two failed motions in a deadlocked 3-to-3 vote; one failing to approve the Site Plan with all of the conditions, and one failing to not approve the Site Plan.
The approved conditions included conditions about the lighting, specifically to the average output of lumens and hours that the building lights will be on to illuminate the temple at night.
The new conditions of lighting will allow the temple to be lit up to one hour before operation hours and up to one hour after. The lights around the parking lot and site lighting will also be switched to be motion activated during the designated times that the outside illumination of the temple must be off. There was no set time for operation hours, but a “rough estimate” for the proposed temple’s hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Last month, the Church retracted their permit application for a height exemption, but proposed that they would like to build the temple with an 85-foot high spire. No updated temple rendering of the new temple height was provided at the meeting.
The Board approved the Site Plan without the new conditions of height for the proposed temple structure, which would have allowed the spire to be up to 85 feet in height from the finished building floor. The current height variance for the proposed area of the temple project is 30 feet.
The Site Plan does not mention the height of the building, but when the Church first applied for permits, a height exemption was one of the three applications submitted, although that application was retracted last month by the LDS Church.
Before voting on the Site Plan that would leave out the proposed height condition of 85-feet, Board member Kim Borer said, “So what you’re doing is eliminating the condition for the height, which is basically just ignoring the elephant in the room. Am I correct?”
Chairman Carson Rowley responded saying, “I mean that could be your interpretation of that.”
Rowley continued, “The Conditional Use Permit, that was approved, does specify a condition that measures it at an exact height. So having nothing to say in the Site Plan about height, […] that still stands, that’s still on the record, that is still an approved item.”
With the approval of the Commercial Site Plan, the Church can now break ground on the project once they have the permit in hand, but the final height of the building is still undetermined.
More than likely, this will not be the Board’s last time reviewing permits for the proposed temple, as the final height of the building has not been finalized. There was also no mention of the lawsuits filed by the LDS Church against the City of Cody’s Planning and Zoning Board.
Before the meeting adjourned, City Planner Todd Stowell took a moment to address the packed Cody Auditorium. “We need to remember we are neighbors,” said Stowell. “I still go back to the number one rule of the [Cody] Master Plan, that we need to be a friendly community, because that’s why we exist.”