Church of Jesus Christ asks to intervene in lawsuit against Heber Valley Utah Temple

Jan 25, 2024, 12:37 PM

An artist rendering of the Heber Valley Utah Temple, displayed Oct. 8, 2022. The Church of Jesus Ch...

An artist rendering of the Heber Valley Utah Temple, displayed Oct. 8, 2022. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed against Wasatch County regarding its decision to approve development for the temple. (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

HEBER CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has filed a motion asking to be a part of a lawsuit against Wasatch County regarding the county’s decision to approve development documents for the church’s Heber Valley Utah Temple.

Although the ground has broken and the county approved plans for the new temple, a lawsuit from some neighbors regarding the alleged impact the temple could have on the city’s landscape and night sky seeks to have reversed that approval.

The church, in a motion to intervene filed Monday, argues it has an interest in the property it owns and would be impacted by any decision made in the legal action. The church’s attorneys also said the county’s primary interest is representing the public, not the church, so they should be allowed to join the lawsuit to address the church’s interests.

The lawsuit

A small group of Heber Valley residents filed the lawsuit on Nov. 29, claiming the development documents for the temple are not consistent with the county’s land use regulations.

They argue their properties are close to the temple site and, as such, the temple would affect their view of the valley. In addition, they said there would be noise and light disturbances created by the temple. The residents also say additional traffic would mean less privacy in their neighborhoods.

“The project has the potential to impact a large portion of the community and represents a significant deviation from previously adopted general plans and land use regulations,” the complaint claims.

It asks the court to review the county’s decision and conclude that the development agreement is illegal. They also have asked for injunctive relief, or for the court to order the county not to move forward with allowing the temple plans until the case is resolved.

Wasatch County asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed on Jan. 17, claiming the residents do not have standing to file the lawsuit.

Heber Valley Utah Temple

The Heber Valley temple was announced in October 2021, and its location was announced the next year — just outside of Heber City, southeast of 1400 E. Center Street.

President Russell M. Nelson dedicated the land for the temple on Oct. 8, 2022, at the official groundbreaking.

“Each temple stands as a symbol of Jesus Christ, our mediator with thee, our Heavenly Father; each temple stands as a sign of our faith in life after death and as a sacred step toward eternal exhalation,” President Nelson said at the ceremony.

Since that groundbreaking, church officials addressed technical issues in their plans. The new plans include dimmer lights and more muted colors to comply with the lighting code.

On Oct. 26, the Wasatch County Planning Commission recommended the County Council approve updated plans for the temple in a tense meeting where some residents were split, with concerns and support.

Heber City residents, and those in surrounding areas, currently travel to Provo to get to their nearest temple, and, at the groundbreaking, many shared excitement about having access to a temple in their valley.

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Church of Jesus Christ asks to intervene in lawsuit against Heber Valley Utah Temple