Zoning officer questioned on Phoenix Temple parking lot spaces
by Betty Reid - Jan. 15, 2011 06:53 AM
The Arizona Republic
The two sides on a proposed Mormon temple in north Phoenix recently tried to
make their case to a zoning adjustment hearing officer.
The dispute centers on parking for Phoenix Temple, planned by the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 5220 W. Pinnacle Peak Road, next to its
Phoenix has said 394 parking spaces is an adequate number.
An attorney for residents who are worried about neighborhood traffic went last
week before hearing officer Ray Jacobs to question how the city had arrived at
Parking became an issue in August, 2010 when church officials unveiled a
redesigned temple that showed a lower, spread-out facility with a taller spire.
The church is seeking a construction permit from the city to build the temple.
Jacobs will need to find answers to seven questions related to a city ordinance
that regulates parking for places of worship and public assembly. The ordinance
requires one parking space per three seats. Jacobs took the case under
Derek Fancon, Phoenix's Planning and Development Services traffic engineer, said
parking was calculated using the temple's largest room, which would be used
The church's attorney, Paul Gilbert, emphasized that the site plans show 394 is
more than ample parking for the temple.
"There is not an ordinance requirement to write a description" of how the church
will use its parking, Gilbert said. "We submitted a floor plan. We told the city
what we are going to do."
Neighborhood organizer Scott Anderson said the numbers don't add up. Anderson
said he counted 133 rooms in the temple rendering and the city calculated
parking using only 25 rooms.
"We feel that because in this new version of the temple that they've done this
year, they've doubled the size of the temple," Anderson said. "By doubling the
size of the temple, they have increased the usage, increased the traffic and we
feel they've made it large enough now where they can no longer provide enough
parking for a 58,000-square-foot building."
Church officials reiterated that the city already approved a site plan and
decided the application is thorough and complies with all zoning regulations.
Parking "exceeds what is required by city code," Jennifer Wheeler, Phoenix
Temple spokeswoman, said after the hearing. "The church is respectful of the
zoning administrator role and believes he will concur with the city's
application of the parking ordinance."
Wheeler said architects and engineers are still working on the plans for the
temple. When the plans are completed, they will be submitted to the city as part
of the permit process, she said.
The construction time line will depend on when the city issues the building
permit, she said. She estimates the temple will take two years to build.
Mormon officials initially proposed to build an 86-foot spire on top of 40-foot
building in an area where zoning caps building heights at 30 feet. The City
Council approved the height, but neighbors opposed the height, saying the temple
would draw too much traffic and block their views, and that the spire would emit
Residents collected signatures to take the matter to voters in 2010, but the
council rescinded its decision after the church said it would redesign the
temple. The new height is 30 feet and the temple size expanded and has a taller