Phoenix neighborhood fights proposed Mormon temple

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix neighborhood is up in arms over a proposed Mormon temple. The city council will vote whether the temple can be built near Pinnacle Peak and 51st Avenue. But not everyone is backing the plan.

A huge stack of petitions was dropped off Wednesday to the Phoenix City Council by individuals who protest congestion, light pollution and the basic design of the future building.

“This day has been looked forward to with great enthusiasm by the members of this church for a long time,” Paul Gilbert said. “We've never had a temple in Phoenix.”

Gilbert, the attorney representing the zoning for the temple, says if it gets final approval, the worshipping location in Deer Valley will expand to include a 40-foot temple with an 80-foot spire. It will reach about 126 feet in height. Right now the land’s current residential zoning allows for 30 feet in height.

“It's actually a two-story building with a spire -- and that’s what it is -- and spires are not regulated by city ordinance,” Gilbert explained.

Scott Anderson represents a group of neighbors in the area. He's organized plenty of protests over the past few months. Wednesday he delivered more than 1,100 signatures to city council -- signatures of people who welcome LDS worshippers; but not some of what they consider "detrimental aspects" of the design.

"They're coming in with a 126-foot tall building that’s only 105 feet away from existing homes, and they’re going to put that structure right in there, and they are basically saying, ‘We don't care what the neighborhood says,’” Anderson said.

"We've tried to make concessions to the neighbors; but apparently it isn’t enough to satisfy them,” Gilbert said. “But we've lowered the heights, we’ve reduced the lighting."

Anderson also takes issue with traffic concerns; but Gilbert says he's already had a full traffic study reviewed by the city of Phoenix.

“It the council goes ahead and votes in favor of this, the neighborhood is prepared to go ahead and start a referendum drive and put it on the ballot and let the voters decide,” Anderson said.

The Phoenix City Council will vote on the issue on December 2.