The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is fighting in court a Cody neighborhood group that doesn’t want the church to build a planned temple there.
Along with increased traffic through the neighborhood, the group says the temple would create light pollution by being brightly lit most of the time and would destroy their viewshed with its planned 77-foot steeple.
Last week, the church submitted a cross petition against the city of Cody on an appeal already filed against the city by Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods. In their filing, the church makes it clear it is directly contesting the neighborhood group’s appeal. The church had already submitted a challenge to another Preserve Our Neighborhoods appeal Sept. 1.
The church argues that the neighborhood group already got almost everything it wants with the project as a result of the Cody Planning and Zoning Board’s Aug. 8 decision that approved the conditional use permit (CUP) and site plan for the temple.
A few members of the board and leaders of Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods disagreed with that interpretation, but the Cody city planner, mayor and chairman of the board also agree with the church.
In late August, Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods filed two appeals in Park County District Court, challenging the board’s decision to approve the temple’s conditional use permit and site plan.
The group’s appeals came on the heels of two court petitions already filed by the church in July, challenging prior decisions by the Cody Planning and Zoning Board. Although the church had originally opposed the board potentially shooting down the 77-foot steeple in its two court petitions, it believes the steeple was approved when the site plan was OK’d.
What Are They Fighting?
The church’s filings ask the court to determine whether the Planning and Zoning Board had the power to make amendments to the site plan and CUP, both which had previously been approved in various forms.
Although the church’s aren’t specifically directed at Preserve Our Cody Neighborhoods, it has been well publicized that the church has conflicting interests to the group, which it addresses on a conditional basis in the cross petitions. It also lets the court know the church has an active, official interest in the appeals.
“Should the court determine that the board had the authority to reconsider the site plan and impose additional conditions at the Aug. 8 2023, board meeting, the church disputes the neighborhood group’s opposition to the Aug. 8 2023, approval of the site plan,” the church states in its Sept. 5 petition.
On June 27, the board amended the temple CUP and site plan in a decision that appeared less favorable for the church. On July 25, the CUP was amended, paving the way for the changes approved Aug. 8 that the church believes green-lighted the temple.
Protect Our Cody Neighborhoods argues that by rescinding a special exemption permit to build the 77-foot tower on the temple, the church gave up approval for the steeple.
The church, city attorney, city planner and P&Z chairman have all argued that by not fully resolving the issue of height within the CUP, there was no regulation in place on the matter. Representatives from the church have said they believe the temple is now fully approved.
News On The Horizon
Still unanswered in all of this is what’s happening with the temple’s building permit. Cody Mayor Matt Hall put an administrative hold on the building permit until Cody City Council can give more consideration to what was approved by Planning and Zoning Board.
Hall told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday afternoon he can’t say anything about the status of thebuilding permit yet, but will be able to soon.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.