After retreating in August on plans to put high-density housing around the proposed Tooele Valley Temple, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday that it will relocate and rename the temple as well.
The three-story, 70,000-square-foot, newly named Deseret Peak Utah Temple — with the same exterior and interior designs as the originally planned edifice — will be built west of the intersection of 2400 North 400 West in Tooele.
The valley’s temple had been scheduled to go up northwest of the intersection of Erda Way and Highway 36.
But the temple and especially the now-abandoned residential community proved divisive in the community — even in a state where the 16.5 million-member global faith is headquartered.
The faith’s governing First Presidency pulled back on the housing project after opponents appeared poised to get a spot on the ballot to reverse approval of the rezoning.
“There is a sincere desire on the part of the church to avoid discord in the community,” the top church leaders wrote in mid-August. “... We acknowledge the efforts of those who have raised questions and sincere concerns about the Tooele Valley Temple project, including the residential development surrounding the temple.”
Critics feared the housing project 30 miles west of Salt Lake City would change the area’s rural feel.
Tuesday’s relocation of the planned temple farther south reflects that some divisions still remained.
“The First Presidency expresses gratitude for the faith and prayers of church members in this area,” a church news release stated Tuesday, “and continues to encourage all people to treat one another with kindness and Christlike love.”
A Tooele official said the new temple was being proposed in an area zoned historically for residential uses and, as such, the project would require review and approval by the city’s Planning Commission.
“This is a fairly fresh announcement but as yet I am not aware of anything other than excitement that the temple is coming to the valley,” Jim Bolser, director of the city’s Department of Community Development, wrote in an email. “Tooele City is in the midst of rapid growth and development and this area of the community is no exception.”
Bolser called the faith’s decision “great news for all church members and nonmembers alike regardless of where in the valley they live.” The location, he said, “will provide wonderful views in all directions.”