By Morgan Phillips and Buzzy Hassrick
Cody Enterprise Via Wyoming News Exchange 

No permit yet for Cody LDS temple


August 17, 2023

CODY — After an 80-minute executive session Tuesday night, the Cody City Council made no decision about the sole topic of discussion: the temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proposed for Skyline Drive.

The lack of action means the mayor’s order to halt issuing a building permit for the controversial project stays in effect, City Manager Barry Cook said Wednesday.

The council “will continue trying to seek options,” he added. “I hope there’s some resolution soon.”

Along with Cook, the others attending the executive session were the mayor, all the council members, the city attorney and the city administrative officer.

Mayor Matt Hall ordered the halt Aug. 11, following the Aug. 8 approval of the temple’s site plan by the planning and zoning board. That approval generated a debate about whether the board okayed the proposed 101-foot height of the structure.

During the Aug. 15 meeting, some speakers expressed gratitude for the approval of the site plan, while another hoped the church would chose another site.

Finally, two elected officials addressed concerns about the controversy and deep division caused by the proposed location.

The president of the Cody LDS stake, Andy Jacobson told council members, “I wanted to also express our gratitude. I recognize that this has been a challenging process for our community.”

“I’ve felt bad about how challenging that’s been,” he continued. “I hope that there’s a way forward where we can mend those fences.”

Counselor to Jacobson, Jimmie Edwards, spoke along the same lines saying, “in our conversations and in our meetings a question that frequently comes up is how do we heal our community?”

“How can we work with our community to help heal some of those wounds from the divide that’s happened, and we’re very anxious now that the planning and zoning board has made their decision, we look forward to the temple getting underway, but also so we can start progressing on healing relationships that have been damaged,” he continued.

Along with Jacobson and Edwards, 11 other citizens spoke, including Noble Walton, a resident on Skyline Drive.

“I’m very in favor of this temple,” she said. “To me, it’s one of the most exciting things that has the potential to happen since the 26 years I’ve lived in Cody.”

“All I can do is give you my word, as so many others have, and promise you that they are quiet and they are peaceful, [and] one really neat thing about the temple property is it will have one owner and it will be pristine and it will stay in good repair,” Walton continued. “Another thing I’d love to express is … this has been quite a summer and Cody is going to be okay. Cody is a good place. We don’t freeze each other out. We can disagree and we can still be friends.”

Luke Hopkin also expressed his support of the temple, thanking those who had worked on the temple project.

“It’s been a lot of personal time for folks and a lot of time away from family figuring things out and going to meetings,” he said.

Brook Grant said her hope was the “inclusion” she felt upon moving to Cody 18 years ago would continue at the conclusion of the temple issue.

“I just have felt so included here in Cody and I felt like all of the denominations have always been so good at pulling together,” she said. “I just hope that we can keep that sense of inclusion, and welcome everybody here and just help everyone to feel that love of our community that I think is so great here.”

A member of the Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods group, Carla Egelhoff spoke in favor of a temple coming to Cody but not on Skyline.

“All of the hoopla, all of the division, all of the hard feelings could be washed away in one simple choice, and that is putting this building in a place where its size and its scale and its light requirements and its traffic needs are met and that would be nearer to high capacity roads somewhere in town,” she said.

“This building could be built without any special anything if they had chosen a good and appropriate zone for it. And I wish that they would still do that,” Egelhoff continued. “I want this denomination to have their temple. They can be just as peaceful and just as serene and just as beautiful in an appropriate location. They don’t have to get that beauty by stealing it from the neighbors who live there already.”

At the end of the meeting, council member Don Shreve and Hall addressed the public comments.

Shreve questioned whether Cody would heal.

“The way my phone has blown up and the emails I get, there’s a scar in this community right now,” he said. “I love to hear that there’s a desire to work to heal the community and you recognize that that scar is there. That makes my heart sing a little bit.”

“If you truly mean that, I would recommend to you to reach out to those citizens that might be opposed to your project and talk about the tower height to do something to heal the community,” Shreve continued.

Hall agreed.

“We don’t want to see this do any more damage than it already has,” he said. “We are very concerned with what’s been happening with this process.”

This story was published on August 17, 2023.


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