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Tooele residents check out new Latter-day Saint temple site

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 00:40:09-05

TOOELE, Utah — A steady stream of cars, vans, trucks and SUVs drove straight toward a dead-end corner in Tooele Tuesday, some pulling over just before reaching the orange pylons marking the end of the pavement.

Others drove to the very end and turned the corner, slowing down as the driver and passengers pointed toward an empty field.

People jumped out of parked cars and took pictures of the field.

Everyone wanted to come see it for themselves.

"Very excited," said Ned Bevan, who lives just up the street. "Happy!" added his wife, Shauna Bevan.

Aline Reis also lives not too far from where North 400 West ends, just south of what will someday be the intersection of an unbuilt 2400 North.

"I'm like, 'I'm going there and check it out!'" she said of why she brought her children to look at the area.

It's where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday morning it is relocating the Tooele Valley Temple. The Church is also renaming the temple.

There is something about seeing the site in person, the people out there indicated, that makes it real.

Shuana Bevan said she wanted to visualize where it was going to be, and wondered if she'd be able to see the temple from her home.

Aline's 12-year old daughter Fernanda got to experience what kind of setting and views would surround the future building.

"You can see the mountains, you can see the sunset, you can see all the space and everything that's going to be in it," Fernanda said. "It's wonderful."

The site is not far from where the temple was originally set to be.

"I like here better actually, but it was kind of [an] uncomfortable situation with that other place," Aline said.

That's because the 'other place' was in rural Erda, and it caused a controversy with many of the residents in the area.

"It had to do with preserving a community — a lifestyle — that people chose," said Erda resident Meredith Mannebach.

The Church picked a farm field in Erda as the first site for the Tooele Valley Utah Temple, with plans to rezone the land and surround it with a housing community.

Mannebach and others supported a referendum last summer that sought to leave the rezoning decision up to voters.

"The people in this area... had no issue with the temple, but didn't want higher density in a rural residential community," Mannebach said.

In August, the Church announced it would pull the rezone application after the referendum campaign gathered thousands of signatures.

Then on Tuesday, another announcement: The Church would move the temple altogether and change its name, the decision coming "After considering current circumstances and opportunities," a statement said.

“SLR’s application for development was withdrawn last August. There are no current plans to develop the property," a spokesperson for Suburban Land Reserve (SLR) wrote on Tuesday about the land in Erda.

"I think it's fabulous. I think it's a win-win for everybody," Mannebach said. "I think it's a much better spot. There's infrastructure in place that will be able to handle it."

The Church told FOX 13 Tuesday that they don't know if the new site will include plans for a housing community around the temple, like the old site did.

The temple design itself will stay the same, just the name and location are changing. The Church said project leaders will immediately begin working with city officials on the plans.

"The First Presidency expresses gratitude for the faith and prayers of Church members in this area, and continues to encourage all people to treat one another with kindness and Christlike love," a statement said.

The visitors who flocked to the site Tuesday evening were ecstatic.

"It will be wonderful," Aline said. "We're happy."

"I'm just excited," Shauna said enthusiastically. "It's perfect! Perfect spot."

And they love the name change: Deseret Peak Utah Temple.

"It's the highest peak in this valley, and so I think that's an appropriate name. And in the mornings when the sun first comes up and hits on that peak, it's just awesome," Ned Bevan said. "So everything about it is just wonderful."