Gigantic 101-Foot-Tall LDS Temple A Done Deal, As Far As City Of Cody’s Concerned

Barring intervention from a court, the city of Cody’s approval Monday of a planned 101-foot-tall LDS temple stands and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can build.

Leo Wolfson

September 18, 20234 min read

An artist's rendering of what the proposed Cody Wyoming Temple would look like.
An artist's rendering of what the proposed Cody Wyoming Temple would look like. (Courtesy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

A controversial Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple has the green light from the city of Cody to begin construction after church representatives threatened federal legal action. 

The city announced Monday it has lifted a pause it had placed on a building permit for the proposed temple which, including its 77-foot steeple, will stand 101 feet tall when complete.

The temple, how its height will impact the local viewshed in the rural neighborhood it’s planned for and other considerations have been the focus of at-times contentious opposition from some local residents.

Now, Press Play

In mid-August, Cody Mayor Matt Hall temporarily blocked the project’s building permit to give the Cody City Council time to analyze the decisions the Cody Planning and Zoning Board made on the matter.

The city says in a Monday press release that church representatives threatened legal action in federal court if the city didn’t allow the temple project to move forward.

In the press release, the city also said it paused the building permit to ease tensions and foster collaboration on the temple issue. After the pause, it says the church made it clear that “any further delay in the permit issuance would result in construction setbacks and significant financial losses, necessitating them to take legal action in federal court to recover damages and legal expenses.”

Hall said in the press release that engaging “in a protracted legal battle” does not align with the city’s values and that staff “have a responsibility to be prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars."

“The city was in a position where it didn’t have a lot of choice,” Cody City Administrator Barry Cook told Cowboy State Daily. “I was disappointed we couldn’t resolve a lot of those outstanding issues.”

Although the mayor and city administrator have the power to block a building permit under Cody city code, the council has no authority to overrule the Planning and Zoning Board. Hall told Cowboy State Daily on Monday they were told by their city attorney that they cannot permanently suspend a building permit.

In the press release, the city says it is still open to facilitating discussions with supporters and opponents of the temple.

How Did We Get Here?

The church submitted a site plan and conditional use permit for the proposed temple earlier this year.

Following a monthslong process that included application review and a handful of public meetings, the Planning and Zoning Board approved a site plan and conditional use permit for the project. The result of these decisions was somewhat contested and the main reason why Hall temporarily blocked the permit.

The temple dispute also is the source of four ongoing judicial petitions filed in Park County District by the church and the Protect Our Cody Neighborhoods group that opposes the temple’s location.

Cook said the city’s involvement in the approval process is now complete and the church can technically start construction. Hall said that if a judge approves an injunction on the temple, the church will be forced to cease construction. 

"Over the past months, we've received impassioned public comment, both in favor and against this project,” Hall said in the press release. “People both in favor of and opposed to the proposed temple have argued that property rights are at stake and that the law supports their view.

“Recognizing the merits of both views and the limitations of the authority granted to the Cody City Council per City code, we believe it is prudent to allow the District Court to decide the future of this project through the appeals that have been filed."

Cook said he’s also disappointed that the debate over the temple’s height was never resolved and that he expects this to be handled in court.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter