The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ plans to build a new temple in Cody will be considered — and potentially debated — at a special Wednesday, May 24 meeting of the …
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ plans to build a new temple in Cody will be considered — and potentially debated — at a special Wednesday, May 24 meeting of the city’s Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board. The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. at the Cody Auditorium.
The church is proposing to build the 9,950 square foot facility on a 4.69 acre parcel of vacant land just west of Skyline Drive, near Olive Glenn Golf Course.
Church leaders are seeking a conditional use permit for the temple and an auxiliary building, along with a special exemption to exceed the 30-foot height limit in that particular zoning district. Though the main portion of the temple will only be 24 feet high, its spire will reach a height of 100 feet, 11 inches, documents say.
The planning board’s meeting was moved to the auditorium from the city council chambers — which can hold about 40 people — because “we just anticipate that there will be more interest than that,” City Planner Todd Stowell said Wednesday. He added that, “We’re already aware there is some organized opposition.”
Haskell Architecture & Engineering, which is representing the church, is encouraging the board to approve the permit and exemption.
“We believe that the Cody Temple will be a valuable addition to the community …,” wrote Project Engineer Joey Krueger of the Jacksonville, Florida-based firm.
In a letter to the board, Krueger said “the attention to detail of the architectural and landscaping features of the site will have a positive aesthetic impact on the surrounding area.” For instance, the site will be developed in a way that “will aim to preserve views of the surrounding mountains from planned viewpoints on the property,” he said.
The church plans to build a new street to the site with a cul-de-sac turnaround and a parking area.
The temple will sit 300 feet away from the Cody Canal, and the canal provides an additional buffer between the house of worship and the closest residences, the letter says.
Traffic should not be an issue, either, according to a preliminary analysis submitted to the city. During the busiest times, on weekday afternoons, the document estimates that roughly 37 vehicles will travel to or from the temple in a given hour; on weekday mornings, coming and goings are expected to peak at around 32 trips per hour.
The city current streets system leading to the site “has and will continue to have adequate capacity to accommodate the existing and projected background traffic without any mitigations,” says the analysis from Fehr & Peers, a national engineering firm that focuses on transportation.
Although the temple location was not publicly announced until March, the documents submitted to the city indicate the church has been studying the feasibility of the site for some time; one concept included in the traffic study is dated February 2022.
Church President Russell M. Nelson announced the plans to build a temple in Cody in October 2021. Temples differ from the church’s meetinghouses or chapels, which are open to anyone. In contrast, temples are used for sacred ceremonies, such as marriages and proxy baptisms on behalf of deceased ancestors; only members of the church in good standing may enter temples once they’re formally dedicated.
The church has said about 7,800 church members in the Big Horn Basin will be served by the new temple; currently, they must travel to the Billings temple.
“There is a substantial population of LDS members in Cody and the surrounding area, and the necessity to construct a temple to serve this region has become evident,” Krueger wrote to the city, saying it “will be a focal point for members of the area.”
Anyone wishing to submit public comments on the proposed permits can speak at the May 24 meeting, email Cody Community Development Director Todd Stowell at firstname.lastname@example.org, hand-deliver remarks to City Hall or mail them to P.O. Box 2200 in Cody.