Synagogue gets final nod
Members of the Temple Har Shalom Reform congregation in Park City will soon join the handful of Jews in Utah who have built their own houses of worship.
"It will be only the fifth purpose-built synagogue in the entire state of Utah — in the entire history of Utah," Temple Har Shalom Rabbi Joshua Aaronson said. "At the moment, there are only two other purpose-built synagogues in Utah, one is in Ogden, one is in Salt Lake City."
The Summit County Commission last week approved a conditional use permit for the area’s only Jewish congregation to construct a two-story, 30,000 square-foot synagogue near S.R. 224 and The Colby School.
"The project is certainly comparable with other religious structures that have been approved in the Snyderville Basin," Summit County senior planner Don Sargent said.
Temple Har Shalom is in its 11th year. Members meet currently in an office building in Prospector.
"We have grown and been fortunate to come to the point that we are prepared to build this facility," Aaronson said.
The congregation purchased the seven-lot Brookside Estates subdivision across from White Pine Canyon Road as the site for the synagogue. The building is planned on three lots in the 71-acre development.
"Most of the Jewish community has its worship activities either on Friday evening or on Saturday morning," Aaronson said, adding that parking on site should accommodate traffic for most synagogue events.
Along with a worship sanctuary, the building will house a kitchen, offices, classrooms and a multipurpose hall.
Besides religious activities, according to a report Sargent submitted to commissioners, "[other] potential uses may include Sundance Film Festival events, art exhibitions and miscellaneous cultural and entertainment activities."
The Summit County Board of Adjustment granted Temple Har Shalom a height variance so a portion of the building in the sanctuary could exceed the Snyderville Basin’s 32-foot height restriction.
Steeples on Catholic, Episcopal and LDS churches in western Summit County, however, are much higher than Temple Har Shalom’s 37-foot sanctuary, Sargent said, adding that representatives of the temple modified their original request of 46 feet.
Meanwhile, to address concerns from the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission that light might reflect off a glazed part of the building into the eyes of passing motorists, the architect reduced the size of the glazed portion of the synagogue from 1,200 to roughly 800 square feet.
Temple Har Shalom officials also agreed to pay $13,750 toward transportation improvements along S.R. 224.
Though state and federal laws allow religions to avoid local zoning ordinances when building houses of worship, Summit County deputy attorney David Thomas notes that nobody vigorously opposed plans for the synagogue.
The building’s first phase consists of 21,000 square feet on which Aaronson expects construction to soon commence.
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.