P&Z approves permits for LDS temple
TWIN FALLS — The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special-use permit for an LDS temple and meeting house, as well as a variance to allow the temple’s height to exceed the city’s 35-foot maximum height.
Tuesday evening, MHTN Architects — the architectural firm hired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to design the temple — explained the proposed design, lighting and landscaping of the temple and meetinghouse to the commissioners.
The possibility of parking congestion on side streets near the temple was a concern from some members of the commission. Although architects designed a parking lot with almost 300 parking stalls, some commissioners were concerned that parking might overflow into neighborhood streets.
Commissioners approved the specialty permit allowing construction of the temple and meetinghouse with staff recommendations that the possibility of street parking be addressed.
The 159-foot-high spire was a concern for some commissioners, however, all but one — Kyla Kelly — felt the height was appropriate for the temple and within reason for the community.
Kelly said she was puzzled the city did not have limits on the height of architectural enhancements — such as the spire of the temple.
“I have to say a 150 plus foot (spire) does change the essential character of the community,” Kelly said. “I don’t feel comfortable about it for that reason, and that reason alone.”
– by Luke P. Wilson
However, other commissioners said the spire was appropriate for a religious facility and that the city did not have any precedent to oppose the height.
“There is no limit on those projections for the height of the spire,” said commissioner David Kemp. “And, this is the whole purpose architecturally.”
Commissioner, Carl Younkin, said — based on the plans he saw — a smaller spire would appear “a little squatty” and not as appealing.
Approval of both the variance and the special permit open the way for the church to begin the next stages of planning unless the community appeals the commission’s decision. However, the architects and engineers must address the staff recommendations on parking concerns.
Members and leaders of the church anticipate the completion of the new temple. With more than 42,000 members in the Magic Valley area, most travel to either Boise or Idaho Falls — where the nearest temples are located.
“This is the highest form of worship for us as a church,” said Brent Nielson, who lives in Twin Falls and serves as one of the members of the church’s Quorum of the Seventy. “Members of the community have been working very hard for years to get this temple.”
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