LDS Church said Tuesday that it will build a 9-story building at its Missionary Training Center, despite complaints from residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, according to this Daily Herald article.
“After a comprehensive three-year study and the completion of neighborhood discussions, the church has opted to add a new state-of-the-art language training facility to its Provo MTC campus,” church spokesman Scott Trotter said in a statement. “Dozens of options were considered for this project and the current option was determined to best meet short-term and long-term needs. This building plan meets all current building codes and zoning requirements.”
MTC administrative director Richard Heaton said at a meeting in March that the church has taken the building’s impact on the neighborhood into account. The church does not need city approval for the 161-foot-tall building.
The church originally revealed plans for the building in March.
Evidently, the residents are concerned that the building will block their view of the nearby mountains.
I’m sympathetic to that concern, but residents — who apparently refused to identify themselves some reason — have made a curious argument:
Several neighbors sent an unsigned letter to the church saying when the MTC was built in the 1970s, the church promised there would be no buildings taller than four stories.
I’m not sure how long the residents expected the church to honor the alleged promise. If the MTC is around in 100 years, should it still not have tall buildings? What about in a 1,000 years? Given the longevity of other world religions, it’s not inconceivable to think the MTC would be around that long.
And again, I’m sympathetic to the aesthetic concerns. I also know some cities enact height restrictions to preserve mountain views or historical character.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into this issue, but it also makes it seem like some of the area’s older residents remain unaware of the magnitude of Provo’s growth over the last generation. Since the 1970s, the city has grown radically; far more than most cities in the U.S., the Provo of the early 21st Century bears little resemblance to the Provo of the mid 20th Century. If that growth continues and destructive sprawl is curtailed, there’s a good chance there will be other tall buildings all over the city.
Whether Provo eventually fills up with tall buildings or not, the most important issue here is recognizing the growth the city has experienced. Failing to do that — and consequently conceiving of Provo as the little town it was more than 40 years ago — will result in policies and procedures designed for a city that no longer exists.