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Changes Made To Cody’s Planning And Zoning After Temple Controversy

Plans for Proposed Temple

The controversy that first began when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it wanted to build a temple on the west side of Cody, appears to be nearing the end.

In February, a judge ruled that the construction on temple could begin.

And now, after four meetings of the Planning and Zoning Board, a compromise seems to have been reached.

Two new ordinances will change the way a request for a variance from code is handled.

The two proposed ordinances had their third reading before the council April 16.  Cody Enterprise reports that both deal with how the public is notified, when they are notified, and at what level of government a variance must be approved.

“We have gotten what we set out to do – get the City Council involved earlier,” said Mayor Matt Hall.

Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods member Carla Eglehoff wanted to see the city’s master plan for development consulted in all variance decisions.  She said, “The city council and Planning and Zoning stand in the gap.  The gap is the character of our town that brings people here.”

In a previous reading, City Attorney Scott Kolpitcke said that state statutes preclude denying a variance based solely on a master plan.  He said that if elements of the master plan are incorporated into city ordinances they then must be considered.

City Councilwoman Lee Ann Reiter addressed Eglehoff’s concerns about including the master plan as criteria for approving variances.  Reiter said, “What we set up in our ordinances worked 10 years ago.  But now we are getting increasing development pressure from out-of-state.”

Mayor Hall noted that the master plan was written in 2012 and it might need to be revised.  However, “Our master plan actually states that it is just a guiding document.”

Among the concessions on the current project, LDS church representatives have agreed to turn the lights off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.  But the height of LDS church member Luke Hopkin explained the final vote allows the church to decide on the tower height.

Neighbors had been concerned that the lights on the 100-foot tower would block their view of the night sky.

“The final vote included mitigations that had been talked about, such as lighting, but it removed the language related to the height of the steeple, which had been proposed to be reduced to 85 feet,” Hopkin said.

Hopkin said the construction can begin as soon as the city issues a building permit. Planning and Zoning board members commented they’ve received hundreds of emails about the project. Those against the temple didn’t comment on the approval.


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