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Mormon Official: Temple Would be a 'Place for Families'

Church representatives say traffic generated by temple would be negligible.

Dozens of curious residents packed the Town Plan and Zoning meeting Wednesday night to hear the formal presentation of plans for a Mormon temple at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Melrose Drive.

Only one resident raised an objection. Several came with questions about how the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would impact their community.

Carefully came the answer from church project manager Kerry Nielsen, who travels across the country overseeing Mormon temple projects.

“This was our first choice,” Nielsen said of the Farmington site. “It will be a place of reverence, a place of faith, a place of instruction, a place for families. It will enhance and add to the community.”

The temple, proposed with a 24,000-square-foot footprint and formal gardens sprawling across 11 acres, would be an important addition for Mormons practicing locally and the 15,000 across Connecticut. The Hartford, CT, temple, as it would be called, will serve Mormons living within an hour-and-a-half drive. Currently those wishing to visit a temple or hold a ceremony at one must drive to either Boston or New York, the sites of the two nearest temples.

More traffic on Route 4?

One resident said she was concerned about adding traffic to the already congested Route 4.

“I’m against any development in this area,” said Marie Lavendier, suggesting the church build elsewhere.

But during a two-hour presentation Nielsen made with traffic and site engineers, a land surveyor and a landscape architect, he said the temple’s impact on Route 4 traffic would be negligible.

The temple is not similar in use to a church building, which local Mormons also have in Canton; large congregations don’t meet at the temple. Instead, small groups visit throughout the weekend, with the greatest amount of traffic on Friday evening and all day Saturday, Nielsen explained. Temples are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

He presented a chart of expected usage. Building usage is anticipated in two-hour slots spanning weekday mornings and afternoons, with about 44 people per slot.

But the highest usage would be about 75 vehicles per hour, coming around 5 p.m. Saturdays.

“Our finding was that we believe the temple will have no significant impact on traffic in the area and we believe your [town] engineering department has essentially agreed,” concluded Fred Greenburg, the traffic engineer who presented the study.

The church would pursue an improvement to the area, Greenburg said. It would add left-hand-turn lanes going in both directions to ease traffic flow into Devonwood and Melrose Drive at the light. No widening of the road would be required, just simply restriping.

The Promise of a New Road

In proposing the project to the town, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had discussed building half of a road that would run parallel to Route 4 along the Farmington River. The road would be a new town road, built at the expense of developers, that would open up access to the land along the river, and to its potential development.

The church planned to build half of the road, with Peter Fishman, of , who owns the 11-acre property and the Greenbriar office property on Bridgewater Drive (across from the ), volunteering to construct the other half and connect Bridgewater to Melrose.

Members of the Town Plan and Zoning Commission have asked Fishman for a complete master plan of the development he is considering. He has said a major traffic study and other work will have to be done before he submits the plan.

And Wednesday Fishman hedged a little on the plan, worrying some commission members.

“Last week we approved the Goddard School and now you’re asking us to approve this thing and there has not been a presentation on what’s going in between and how the two properties would work together. We’re hoping Peter could provide some insight on what the plan would be if we approved the whole thoroughfare,” Commissioner Bill Stanford said.

Fishman said that the road would cost $1.5 million to install and he wanted to ensure it would be worth it. Commissioner Barbara Brenneman said she was concerned the road wouldn’t get built.

Timeline and Next Steps

Nielsen asked the commission not to close a public hearing on the matter because the issue will be back before the Inland Wetland and Watercourses and Conservation Commission tonight. The temple application was continued from May 7.

The hearing will continue until June 19.

For the temple application to be approved, the commission would have to grant a change of zoning for two parcels. One is where the former Whitman Restaurant — now an office building — now stands and the other where a house was knocked down in 2011 to make room for the , now set to be built on Bridgewater. In the 1980s, Nielsen explained, the parcels were changed from residential to commercial. Farmington only allows religious use in residential zones.

Should the project be approved, Nielsen said the church would hold a ceremonial groundbreaking in September, with two years of construction likely.

For more information about the proposed temple, click here.

Suzie F. May 24, 2012 at 01:23 PM
What if the Mormon Church agreed to build a bridge from New Britain Avenue over the river coming out behind Greenbriar onto Route 4 then a straight shot up Brickyard into Avon? That would alleviate alot of traffic which now must go through Unionville to get up to Route 44 and save the Town and State a bundle!
JMB May 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM
What about tax revenue from that land. Are they exempt from paying taxes?
Cornelius (Neil) Lynch May 24, 2012 at 04:04 PM
The building looks more like a government building than a religious one; it's rather boring looking; wouldn't want outsiders mistaking it for a town hall. I was hoping for a more exciting structure along the lines of the tabernacle in the Washington, D. C. area. What is the difference between a Mormon temple and a Mormon tabernacle. I know that religious property is exempt from local taxes but, if the on site caretaker has a child in the Farmington school system, is the parent/s also excused from paying taxes?
Amigao May 24, 2012 at 05:07 PM
"if the on site caretaker has a child in the Farmington school system, is the parent/s also excused from paying taxes?" There would be no caretaker. Temples are cared for by unpaid church members who live in the area.
Amigao May 24, 2012 at 05:14 PM
" I was hoping for a more exciting structure along the lines of the tabernacle in the Washington, D. C. area. What is the difference between a Mormon temple and a Mormon tabernacle." Are you referring to this building: http://www.ldschurchtemples.com/washington/images/washington-mormon-temple.jpg That is the Washington DC Temple, not a tabernacle. The LDS Church generally doesn't build tabernacles anymore, but those that there are are used for many different purposes. Sometimes for large religious gatherings, such as the Salt Lake Tabernacle, which used to be the site of the General Conference held twice a year. The Provo Tabernacle that recently burned down had been used for community gatherings, theater events, etc. As the article states, temples are not used for large gatherings of people, but by couples and families for sacred ordinances such as marriages.
Kaitlin Glanzer (Editor) May 24, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Well, actually, there is a caretaker's house on the temple parcel. A "senior couple" would live there and care for the property.
Ann C. Jett May 24, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I guess I wondered why Farmington? Our town in general is small comparatively yet Route 4 is probably the heaviest congested with traffic during most times of the day and throughout the weekend. Generally, I support development which generates revenue for the town. Going forward it helps when town budgets are being crafted for public review and vote. As a religious organization, I believe the "temple" would qualify for a tax exemption even though "religious services" aren't held there. It would be helpful to know that town's Corporate Counsel's take on this as well as projected fiscal impact.
Jay May 24, 2012 at 07:23 PM
It would be tax exempt. I don't see how you could have a tax revenue on that property with out creating traffic problems. You can't have it both ways. It seems the best solution for that location is something that won't add to the traffic on route 4.
Seth J. May 24, 2012 at 08:37 PM
The caretaker's residence will be used by the Temple President and his wife, the Temple Matron. Generally, Temple Presidents are about 70 years old, and they typically will serve as president for three years. It is an unpaid calling. It is very unlikely that they would have children in the public school system. The temple will be staffed by mostly volunteers, but there are paid employees that are usually associated with temples, such as gardeners, engineers and some administrative staff. But the most marvelous aspect of a temple is the beauty it exudes. I have personally visited 72 temples throughout the world, and each one is so serene and majestic. There is a warmth and glow that surrounds each temple. I am so happy that Farmington has been chosen as a site for one of these very special buildings.
Ann C. Jett May 24, 2012 at 08:59 PM
With all due respect Seth and any others, beauty was not the first adjective that came to mind when I saw the rendering of the temple. As Mr. Lynch stated, it looks more like a government building. It appears to be larger than any other structure on Route 4. If one were thinking in terms of maintaining the small town appeal, the building could be considered somewhat looming in comparison to the others in the immediate area.
Ann C. Jett May 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Agree
Cory Hurst May 25, 2012 at 01:38 PM
To Ann, Before the temple is dedicated for use, you and your family will have a chance to tour it and look inside. I would reserve my judgement until that time. You may be surprised.
Lorren Pogson May 25, 2012 at 11:17 PM
So- we are going to support a building which wont generate taxes AND impacts the quality of a watershed area and wetlands....Seems like a lose/lose to me. We might as well have a business which will equally (or to a lesser degree) impacts the site but which draws revenues for the community. It will be interesting to see what TPZ decides given most members' intense drive towards economic development in this town. This structure is taking up prime commercial land, tax base and there is very little land left in Farmington to develop....as those who interviewed me for IWWC mentioned... so it is imperative that its development is chosen and manged wisely.
JACKIE J May 26, 2012 at 05:03 AM
I have lived in Farmington since a young child. I have since grown up and had 3 children. I very recently came to stay with my father because my youngest child was diagnosed with cancer. I had to quit my 3 jobs to take full time care of him. I deal with Farmington traffic every day all day living off town farm rd. I think that this temple is exactly what me and my family need in these hard times so that we can reconnect with my faith. I obviously do not have the money to taxi my children arround and take my youngest to clinic and do the things "I want". I have been praying for this and hope that other people of other faiths will see that this is worth traffic or taxes to people like me.
Pat Price May 27, 2012 at 01:27 AM
The church members who come to the temple often buy gas, go out to eat and other related revenue generating activities. Property values will rise in the general area as well, based on the quality and beauty of the temple. When they hold their open house be sure to go.
jackie j May 28, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I do not know why nobody has commented on my last commet. I am glad to see that maybe some of the regulars on this site, such as Mr. Smith, may see that this could and I am sure will be a very good thing for the town of Farmington and some families much like mine. there are many families her in CT. that have children with cancer. I do not know what their faiths all are but I do see all kinds of families that come from all different situations when I bring my son to clinic for chemotherapy treatments. I am only speaking for me and my family but this is exactly what we need to help us through these times. I hope that everyone that has been against this can have some empathy or sympathy about my situation. Just because this is not the most common faith in Farmington it does no mean that it does not mean the WORLD to the ones in town just like me
Paul Chotkowski May 29, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Ms. Progson please share your data and analysis by competent certified professionals who have indicated that the proposed Temple project will negatively impact the “quality of the watershed area and wetlands” your “lose/lose” comment implies a negative impact. I have followed the question quite closely and I am sorry to say I have missed any such study. Without such creditable data and objective analysis at best your comments remind me of the East Anglia Climate Gate Scandal and at worst they are disturbingly akin to those heinous unsubstantiated accusations made throughout history concerning water wells, negative impacts, & certain religious minority groups that have given rise to bloody pogroms! Either way, shame on you! I guess we have some insight into the Progressive / Socialist view of the Politically Correct modern analogue of Blood Labial, Host Desecration, & Well Poisoning! Again Shame! Additionally, would you please point out the portion of the town’s s Strategic Plan where we as a community have stated that we do not want any more tax exempt religious organizations as part of our “diverse community”, I am unable to find an “I got my church so let us ban everyone else’s on the grounds that THEY will not pay property tax” clause in the current version of the Strategic Plan document available on the town’s website. The more politically probable explanation is kneejerk “Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes” so it all should be verboten!
Matt Pogson May 30, 2012 at 01:43 AM
For all the big words you throw around here on the Patch Paul, I'd think you could at least handle spelling a last name right. It's Pogson not Progson. Besides being unable to spell, I'd like to see your doctorate in political science and your published dissertation on how to identify Progressive Socialism. Please forward me your resume so I can check to see if you are qualified to discuss such matters. Until then why don't you try to be more open to discussion rather then simply spewing negative comments about everything anyone has to say and trying to make others sound stupid. Some of us come on here to share our feelings or concerns about our community and when you're constantly berating everyone it devalues the discussions on this site. On a separate note my deepest sympathies to Jackie J. I'm sorry your family has had to endure so much and I am glad you have found a way to cope with your circumstances. Although I am not a big religious person myself I do understand that it can bring comfort to some during difficult situations. And although I may not support the building of this temple for reasons such as what my sister has stated, I do hope you and the Mormon community do not think less of me for my view. I wish you and your family the best of luck.
MAC June 07, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Matt Pogson did post this, Tuesday of last week, as the last part of a post responding to someone else: "my deepest sympathies to Jackie J. I'm sorry your family has had to endure so much and I am glad you have found a way to cope with your circumstances. Although I am not a big religious person myself I do understand that it can bring comfort to some during difficult situations. And although I may not support the building of this temple for reasons such as what my sister has stated, I do hope you and the Mormon community do not think less of me for my view. I wish you and your family the best of luck."

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