The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints is expected to give an informal presentation at the Monday Town Plan and Zoning Commission meeting to discuss plans to build a temple at the intersection of Melrose Drive and Farmington Avenue.
The organization has not yet submitted a proposal to the Town Plan and Zoning Office but has discussed plans for the building.
“They’re proposing to build an incredibly beautiful, very New England-appropriate temple that is going to be a significant landmark in this town for hundreds of years,” said Peter Fishman, president of PKT Development, which owns the land the church proposes to build on.
Town Planner Jeffery Ollendorf said that though he hasn’t seen specific plans for the temple, he has been told the building will not be as large as other Mormon temples.
Fishman said perhaps no more than 20,000 square feet, with a capacity of 200-250 people.
And it wouldn’t be for common use. Mormons use a local meetinghouse for regular Sunday worship, while the temple is a more regional facility, used for special occasions. There are meetinghouses in Canton and Bloomfield.
The temple would be the only one in Connecticut, with the nearest temples located in Boston and New York. According to lds.org, there are only 136 temples in the world, including the Hartford, Connecticut temple, which has been “announced.”
According to an informational page about temples, “temples are the most sacred place on earth-a place where earth and heaven meet and where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
The site explains that temples serve a variety of important functions in the church, including education and ritual ordinances like the sealing of spouses and children and that the church is attempting to build more temples around the world.
If the project were approved, the former Whitman building at 1125 Farmington Ave. would be demolished, along with five houses along Farmington Avenue. in June of 2011 to make room for a daycare facility, The Goddard School, which would be built instead by the Greenbriar Office complex on Bridgewater Drive.
According to Fishman, the total parcel would be about 11 acres. Currently, 1125 Farmington Ave. is a 12,000 square foot office building with an 80-car parking lot and houses a few businesses.
Normally, religious buildings are allowed in residential zones and while much of the area is zoned residential, the former Whitman building is zoned for commercial use, Ollendorf said.
For the project to be approved, the zoning commission must allow an amendment to the zoning regulations, allowing for a religious institution in a commercial zone — a process that requires a public hearing.
“The commission has to make a finding that it will fit into the fabric of the neighborhood and not be detrimental,” Ollendorf said.
Fishman said he had concerns initially but changed his mind upon seeing plans.
“I’ve seen what it’s going to look like and it’s going to be glorious – like a museum. It’s going to be really a fantastic building, exceptionally well-built,” he said.
Attorney Bob Reeve of is representing the church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints could not be reached for comment.
The zoning meeting Monday will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at .