Heber City Council approves LDS temple project memorandum of understanding

Proposed site of the Heber LDS temple. 1400 East Center Street. Across the street from and exisiting LDS Stakehouse and the Red Ledges private home community. David Jackson/Park Record
David Jackson/Park Record

Heber City Council’s Sept. 6 meeting was packed with concerned locals ready to voice their concerns over the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Heber Valley Temple plans.

Though the project is set to take place on County land, and thus the church is turning to the Wasatch County Council in their approval process, Heber City will be impacted through the new building’s effects on infrastructure, traffic and lighting on the surrounding area.

Because certain aspects of the project will need to meet Heber City standards while others will need to meet Wasatch County standards, Heber City sought out a Memorandum of Understanding between the city, county and church to prevent misunderstandings or blurred lines.

Conversations around the MOU, however, have evolved past zoning lines and area specifications to include the project more generally.

During the council’s Aug. 1 meeting, council members haggled about whether they should approve the memorandum or not given Heber City residents’ concerns over the lighting and size of the proposed temple.

“This was not meant to be a hammer or an opportunity to put additional conditions on the project. It was just meant to clarify those things specifically for the road,” Heber City Engineering Director Russ Funk said. “There have been some interesting comments that have been brought up. In the past, when this project was initially raised, there were just some real initial conversations about the need to dewater and pumping and things like that. Now there’s some more information.”

While the city should investigate those concerns, he specified, he “sees them as being separate issues” from what’s addressed in the MOU.

During the council’s Aug. 1 meeting, several members also discussed the possibility of charging the church impact fees to help cover the improvements the temple will necessitate.

Given that the church is building a roundabout as part of the project, Funk said Tuesday night, Heber City’s legal counsel recommended he drop the consideration. Funk estimated the organization will spend about half a million dollars building the roundabout while the impact fees the city would charge based on the project’s traffic study would be within the vicinity of $220,000.

“I agree that enough information was brought forward that I wasn’t fully aware of that we need to do some more digging,” Funk said. “I don’t think it necessarily has to be related to this.”

Primarily, he later specified, the impact the project will have on the area’s ground water should be further explored.

The well-attended meeting saw many public comments from individuals disagreeing with Funk and urging the council to not approve the memorandum until the project’s impacts on traffic, water levels and lighting could be further explored.

One virtual attendee also publicly commented while speaking with his dog, Simba, though his participation seemed to be erroneous.

The council ultimately adopted the MOU in a 3-2 vote.

A more detailed version of this article will appear in the next edition of The Park Record.

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