To the editor:
The LDS Church has proposed construction of a temple in Cody, WY. However, a local member’s donated site is being contested by the adjacent neighborhood residents. This residential zoned area is restricted to single family homes and recreation facilities. Certain other facilities such as a house of worship can be allowed by obtaining a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) authorized by the city’s planning and zoning board (PZB).
Although the PZB approval was passed earlier with later misunderstandings and confusing height voting, the city issued the permit. This has caused an adjacent anti-temple location neighborhood group to file legal proceedings as has the LDS Church. The following is why the CUP should be denied at this location
What drives temple Conditional Use Permit (CUP) approval? City ordinance title 10-14-1-D lists seven standards to be satisfied for PZB approving a CUP as follows:
1. IS SITE LARGE ENOUGH AND ALL DIMENSIONAL AND REGULATIONS MET? Temple site size compared to a residence is a mismatch. Is this mismatched prefabricated modular structure designed for various US locations capable of withstanding the city high point with strong 100+ mph winds? The big issue is its 101’ height against zoning maximum 30’ driven by preserving low profile western city neighborhoods. As this maximum height is a local ordinance, how can it be exceeded without City Council approval or rezoning approval? If such an extreme variation is allowed, it sets a precedent that any fixed zoning requirement is a guide easily waived!
2. IS SCALE OR DENSITY COMPATIBLE WITH USES IN IMMEDIATE AREA? Existing uses are single family homes and open space. Future uses allowed are open space and recreational. The temple massive monumental scale and designed dominating style structure is 3 or 4 times family home footprint, on 4+ acres with a 140 parking spaces, a bright reflective finish and 3 to 5 times higher than average home. These comparisons and temples restricted membership limiting neighborhood use, unlike other houses of worship, is hardly compatible with existing uses.
3. ARE ANY LISTED NUMEROUS ACTIVITIES MATERIALLY DETRIMENTAL? Temple’s 6am to 10 pm hours of operation with people coming and going daily seem similar to commercial service rather than residential activities. Increased traffic on dead end 2 lane Skyline Drive will add risk to individuals and sports activities. Glare, even with restrictive lighting, will always cause reflection from sun and moon light to area neighbors.
4. DOES PROPOSAL INCLUDE CITY UTILITIES AND SERVICES? City responses required.
5. DOES PROPOSAL CREATE EXCESSIVE ADDITIONAL COSTS? City responses required.
6. WILL RESULT IN DESTRUCTION, LOSS OR DAMAGE OF NATURAL SCENIC OR HISTORIC FEATURE? Neighbors acquired homes in part for the great scenic views from McCullough Peaks across landscape to Cedar Mountain incorporating scenic features like open space, Heart Mountain inverted top, Chugwater outthrust and Shoshone River Canyon. Temple does not destruct these features but its center of attraction eye catching design damages the current clear unobstructed scenic views.
7. IS PROPOSED USE CONSISTENT WITH CODY MASTER PLAN? Master plan objective is to preserve and protect existing neighborhoods and their characters, limits building heights, preserve scenic views and lessens noise and lighting impacts.
The PZB Board voted too quickly in their first meeting favoring a Conditional Use Permit on a biased seemingly conflicted city planner’s report and a seemingly conflicted non-city resident board member’s pressure. These factors limited a thorough comparison with Standards of Review Considerations and analysis of local neighbors’ impacts in the meeting presentations? Who better to judge the temple’s compatibility and harmony than affected neighbors whose input recently caused the PZB Board to not approve the West Cooper Lane project?