The LDS Church is suing the city of Wyoming over plans for a new temple

Church argues that Cody’s planners broke their own rules when the city ruled against the structure.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) This artist’s rendering shows the temple planned for Cody, Wyoming.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is suing a Wyoming town after it voted to approve plans for a new temple — then decided the vote didn’t count and rejected the plans.

The Cowboy State Daily reported that on June 15, five members of the seven-member Cody Planning and Zoning Board met to consider the proposal for the temple the church plans to build on a 12-acre site overlooking the town of about 10,000 people. The board voted 3-1 to approve, with one abstention.

But CEO Carson Rowley subsequently ruled that the motion failed because it did not have the support of a majority of all seven board members, including the two who did not attend the meeting.

This, the church argued in a lawsuit filed Monday in Park County District Court, violated the board’s own rules.

The Cowboy State Daily reported that under Cody’s township bylaws, approval requires “a positive vote by a majority of the planning, zoning, and adaptation committee members present at the meeting.” And with three votes from the five members present, this standard was met.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) This is the location in Cody, Wyoming where the LDS Church plans to build a new temple.

According to the Wyoming News Agency report, there has been “bitter” reactions to the plans for the temple and its “controversial 77-foot spire,” which will be “lit late into the evening” and “has generated more opposition than any other aspect of the project.”

The Cowboy State Daily also reported that the Cody Planning and Zoning Board met again Wednesday to discuss plans for the Latter-day Saint temple. And although the meeting’s agenda stated that “no action would be taken,” the board decided “that any approval of a conditional use permit for the temple would be conditional on acceptance of the special exception for the spire.” On June 15, the board had voted in favor of the temple permit but had put forward a proposal for the spire permit.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) This map shows where in Cody, Wyoming the LDS Church plans to build a new temple.

The area where the Church plans to build the temple is designated as a residential area and buildings must not exceed 30 feet in height. The temple building would be 25-26 feet high; The addition of the 77-foot steeple would increase the height to over 100 feet.

A group calling itself “Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods” is leading the opposition, and more than 300 people came to the June 15 meeting to discuss the structure — “more opponents than supporters,” according to Cowboy State Daily. And “most of the people who have borne testimony in the name of the temple . . . are members of the Church.”

The news agency reported that most of the opposition said they were not opposed to the temple but wanted to see it built elsewhere. However, one man called it “the most controversial issue Cody has ever faced,” arguing that the temple is a “100-foot-tall billboard for Mormonism that we Gentiles need to see every day.”

Church members view a temple as a house of the Lord, a place where believers partake in the highest rites of their religion, including eternal marriage.

Justin Scaccy

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