City council unanimously approved
The Phoenix city council, led by Mayor Phil Gordon, voted unanimously to approve the simple zoning variance requested for the LDS temple in North Phoenix. The temple will be built on property the LDS church already owns, adjacent to an existing church building. The main portion of the temple will stand 40ft high, instead of the 30ft allowed by current zoning. The steeple will add height, but steeples are not regulated under current Phoenix codes.
LDS temple will be a good neighbor
Interestingly, the LDS church made several concessions during the whole zoning change and variance request process. Based on complaints from members of a neighboring HOA, the LDS church agreed to:
- Use an exterior building color that was preferred by the neighborhood
- Decrease lighting output to below required standards, to help maintain night views
- Turn off key lighting at 10pm, and hour earlier than required by law, to help maintain night views
In the construction of this temple, the church is also:
- Building the structure further from the neighboring houses than is required
- Adding far more landscaping than is required
During each of the meetings that I attended, the church gave more and more to the HOA and neighbors. They tried to work with the neighbors to minimize the impact on the community. The church was more than fair, it was gracious.
Mormons want to work with and support communities
During the last zoning meeting, several people made mention of the thousands of volunteer hours that the LDS church has put forth in North Phoenix communities recently, and how dedicated the LDS church is to making those communities great places to live.
Mormons want to make communities better, and more friendly for families and neighbors to work and live together. The temple that will be built will be a beautiful addition to the community, and will be well kept and maintained to the highest standards. The landscaping will be quiet and calm, and open for members of the community to enjoy on a daily basis if they wish.
Religious freedom is important, and it is threatened
The LDS church always work with local laws, leaders and communities. No matter where we are in the world, our personal conviction is to work within the law. One of our most cherished freedoms is the freedom of religion that we enjoy most pointedly in the United States of America, and often, that freedom is threatened.
It has always been that way for the Mormon church. From the beginning, opposition parties have tried to stop the LDS people from worshiping according to their faith and beliefs. This is in plain opposition to the laws of the land, which protect every individuals rights to worship. Members of any religious group should be concerned when they see the religion of another trampled on.
The members of the HOA opposed to the temple re-zoning have stated publicly that they have no issue with the Mormon religion, or their right to build a temple, but that they simply do not want a temple in their neighborhood. I hope and pray that they are sincere in that proclamation, as it is a comforting and peaceable stance to take.
It is also my sincere hope that the HOA and citizen groups involved are not associated with and do not accept funds from anti-Mormon sources bent on denying the LDS people their freedoms of religion. Association with those vitriolic and secretive groups will bring those individuals nothing but remorse of conscience.
Healing with the community
I still believe firmly that Mormons in Phoenix are largely concerned, like myself, with the healing that can and should take place with members of the community after the temple is built. We feel strongly that those people who are currently opposed to the temple will see and understand the peace that will come from this sacred edifice once it is constructed.
I invite any and all who have questions about the temple or about the Mormon church to ask them here. I will try to answer you as directly as I can. No question is too small. I look forward to the outreach that we can make with the community, and to making Phoenix a better place.