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LDS Church Addresses Lawsuit and Temple Controversy

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proposed temple has raised concerns and sparked controversy in the Cody community.

Last week, the LDS church filed a lawsuit against the City of Cody’s Planning, Zoning, and Adjustment Board, requesting judicial review of the June 17 meeting, claiming that there was a majority vote in favor of the temple’s Site Plan.

In response to community concerns of the proposed temple and lawsuit, LDS Church officials have released a statement and answered a few questions about the controversy through President Jimmie Edwards of the Cody, Wyoming Stake Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints.

One of the concerns community members have about the temple development is that the proposed Site Plan violates city code and Cody’s Master Plan. The Church says, “That determination is made by city leaders. We feel we are in compliance with both federal and local law.”

The Church also stated, “We have compromised on a number of items in good faith. The opposition only seems to offer one option, no temple in Cody. We are hopeful we can find a mutually agreeable solution for all of Cody and avoid the division being raised by opponents to the temple.”

The Planning, Zoning, and Adjustment Board has approved several permits including the Consideration of Fence Height Waiver and the Consideration of Conditional Use Permit, which will allow the temple to be built in Cody. However, where in Cody the temple will be built still remains unknown, due to the height of the 101-foot-tall steeple, also referred to as a spire, and the light pollution that could be caused by the building lights that will be on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The Church has offered concessions on both building lighting and steeple height and is seeking to work with the city to document those concessions,” said the Church.

When asked why the Church has been so quiet about the development, they said, “We are a temple building people and have constructed hundreds of sacred worship spaces in communities around the world.”

“When developers learned of concerns about constructing a temple in Cody, an open house was held for the community,” continued the Church. “All were invited to come learn about the proposed project. Beyond that, the Church has followed the required processes as established by the City of Cody.”

The Planning, Zoning, and Adjustment Board at the June 17th meeting. (Photo by Jessi Entel)

The LDS Church remains hopeful that the temple will be able to be developed at the proposed address of 555 Temple View Lane, stating, “In addition, the Church has reached out to the representatives of those expressing concerns and were told on several occasions they were simply unwilling to meet or talk.  We remain willing and anxious to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.”

The violent signs posted around Cody in opposition of the temple development was also addressed by the Church. “As followers of Jesus Christ, we do not condone the use of inflammatory language nor the defacing of public property. “

The Church also addressed why they felt it was necessary to take legal action against the City of Cody’s Planning, Zoning, and Adjustment Board. “The petition is necessary to preserve the Church’s legal right to appeal following the Board’s June 17th decision. Worth noting that this does not change our position in any way and we intend to set the appeal aside as we seek to find a mutually agreeable resolution with the City.”

Despite the contention, the Church feels strongly that a favorable decision will be made. “The Church remains confident a mutually beneficial resolution can be reached, and that the temple will be a wonderful asset to the community and provide a much-needed place of worship for the thousands of members in Cody and in the surrounding area.”

This week, Cody’s Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board will be meeting to decide if the Church of Later-day Saints will be able to build the Cody Temple at the proposed address of 555 Temple View Lane. The meeting will be held Tuesday, July 25 at 6 p.m. at the Cody Auditorium.

For more information about the upcoming meeting, please contact the City of Cody.

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