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Neighbors have LDS temple concerns

CODY - "First and foremost, it's not personal or against all the LDS faithful whatsoever," Terry Skinner said in discussing his opposition to the construction of a Mormon Temple in Cody. "It's really about doing what's right for the neighborhood.

"We want to be respectful of the church and the community, and from our standpoint, what's best for the community is to relocate the temple to a different site," Skinner continued.

Ahead of the city planning and zoning public hearing originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 24 - in which a conditional use permit and special exemption request for the temple that would be located off Skyline Drive will be discussed - community members expressed concerns about the idea.

Some of the concerns listed by Skinner and Carla Egelhoff, both of whom live near the proposed site of the temple, include the possibility the temple would impact Cody's "panoramic mountain views, daytime skyline, nighttime star-gazing and create increased traffic," Skinner wrote in a letter to the editor.

Skinner's letter further cited safety concerns for those having to leave main roads and enter neighborhoods to reach the temple. The building's size and scale are another issue for those in opposition.

The temple, slated to be 13,467 square feet at a height of 101 feet with 140 plus parking spaces, "is clearly out-of-place compared to every other religious structure within city limits," Skinner said in a letter to the editor.

"Placing this temple in a quiet residential neighborhood on a dead-end street never planned for the increased traffic level generated" remains a prominent concern Skinner said in his letter.

In an interview, Egelhoff said there was also an issue with the special exemption request being put before the planning and zoning board, which would allow for a 30- foot spire on the temple.

"The request for a special exemption is so far outside of the realm of reasonable within the guidelines of the city ordinances and the Cody Master Plan," she said.

Skinner added the Cody Master Plan seeks to "protect the existing character" in residential, commercial and industrial areas but also discourages that which is "not in harmony with the existing or desired future character of these neighborhoods."

Skinner and Egelhoff's goal is for the conditional use permit and special exemption request for the LDS temple to be denied and another site for the temple to be selected.

"The proposed site and location are wrong for such a monumental building," Egelhoff said in her letter to the editor.

The public hearing scheduled for May 24 to consider the applications related to the Cody Wyoming Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was canceled.

In an email to local media, city planner Todd Stowell said that the church has withdrawn both of its applications. These include a conditional use permit outlining the construction of the temple and auxiliary building and a special exemption request to allow the temple spire to exceed the 30-foot height limit in the rural residential zoning district.

Jeremy Bastow, of Haskell Architecture and Engineering, sent an email to the city announcing the church's intention to withdraw the applications on May 22.

However, the applications will soon be resubmitted with the goal of holding a new hearing in June 2023, Bastow said. He said he did not expect the church to make any revisions to its current applications.

This story was published on May 22.