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Wasatch County Council approves construction of LDS temple in Heber Valley

Posted at 6:09 AM, Nov 09, 2023

HEBER CITY, Utah — The Wasatch County Council voted unanimously to approve the plan for construction of a controversial LDS temple during a public hearing on Wednesday.

Since September of 2022, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has wanted to build a temple on an 18-acre parcel of property in the area of 1400 East Center Street in Heber City.

The temple is set to be 88,000 square feet with a 210-foot steeple and more than 450 parking spaces.

Those who were for and against the construction of the LDS temple once again packed into the Wasatch Senior Citizen's Center.

Richard Brambila is a Heber City resident. He says his home backs up to where the temple would be built.

An active member of the church, Brambila supports the temple being put practically in his own backyard.

"I think the community will be better served, having one closer and there is a big LDS population here," said Brambila.

County officials began the meeting on Wednesday by rehashing what the project would entail. They also laid out possible items that could be discussed by the council, including lighting and dewatering plans, as well as, the height of temple.

"I just hope people can gain a better understanding of what it's used for what the temple is there for and, hopefully, they can get a better understanding and we can move on," said Brambila.

Lisa Bahash is a co-founder of Save Wasatch Back Dark Skies and a Heber City resident.

"Our resident group is not against a temple in the valley, we support that 100 percent," said Bahash.

Bahash explained she and her group would like to see the temple in a better location.

"The location is zoned for one acre, residential or agricultural lots," said Bahash. "It's zoned for 35 feet tall maximum, the temple at its highest point will be 210 feet tall, 88,000 square feet, a parking lot of 454 spots."

Bahash also spoke about concerns over lighting and groundwater from the project.

"The site for the temple resides on a class one aquifer and there's going to be not only pumping for the construction of millions, hundreds of millions of gallons, but also daily on an ongoing basis," said Bahash.

Chandler Rosenberg, the Deputy Director Great Basin Water Network provided FOX 13 News with a statement on Wednesday, that said in part:

"Two of the largest groundwater wells in Heber are within 100 yards of the proposed temple’s pumping. We need to be very careful about the potential impacts overpumping could have. What happens when the aquifers run dry? Community members deserve to know the risks.

USGS has already agreed to run the models — now it’s up to city leaders to do the right thing and pause the project until an independent scientific analysis has been conducted."

Several people who turned out on Wednesday chose to speak during the public comment period.

A husband and wife spoke out in support of the project, saying the temple will be utilized in the area.

Shortly after, one resident asked the county council if this was the best location to put the temple.

"We believe that there's enough issues, not only with the building on that site, but also with the approach of using a legislative development agreement," said Bahash.  "We do not feel it's the right and proper way to approve a temple here." 

After more than five hours, the Wasatch County Council approved the plan in a unanimous vote.

Bahash told FOX 13 News they would be reviewing their legal options, saying her group isn't done asking for a different location or a different design for that location.