While we don’t know what the Tooele Valley Temple will look like, a concept plan has been submitted with a rezone application for the 167 acres of land that include the future temple in Erda.
Suburban Land Reserve, a tax-paying real estate investment affiliate of the Church, has proposed a “walkable, sustainable, high-quality residential community” surrounding the temple grounds, according to Dale Bills, communications director for Suburban Land Reserve.
The concept plan, subject to approval by the Tooele County Commission, includes over 32 acres of open space, parks, and walking trails set among single-family homes to be built on a variety of lot sizes, as well as a community of attached homes for people aged 55 and older.
Another 15 acres is set aside as a “special project area” that includes the temple and a meetinghouse, according to the concept plan.
The concept plan shows a total of 447 housing units on the property. That makes the gross density of the development 2.67 housing units per acre. Lot size ranges from half-acre to less than 4,500-square-feet.
The intent is to improve and enhance the vacant land around the temple site for generations to come, according to Bills.
“Suburban Land Reserve is committed to developing a vibrant neighborhood where people at different life stages and varied income levels will enjoy living within walking distance of the temple,” he said. “The temple’s timeless architecture and manicured grounds will be a beautiful, enduring central feature of the community for all who will live there, regardless of religious affiliation.”
The proposed residential community makes the new sewer, water and other utilities infrastructure needed to develop the largely vacant land economically and functionally viable, according to Bills.
An informational meeting for local Church leaders regarding the Tooele Valley Temple was held February 6.
Leaders were shown photos of the Pocatello, Idaho temple as an example of a similar size temple. Renderings of the Tooele Valley Temple have not been released and a date for a groundbreaking ceremony has not been announced.
Bills said Suburban Land Reserve is aware that some Erda residents have been vocal and organized in opposition to higher density housing in Erda.
“As always, Church investment affiliates strive to be good citizens,” Bills said. “In seeking approval for the residential development surrounding the proposed temple, Suburban Land Reserve is working closely with Tooele County elected officials, Tooele County planning staff and UDOT to ensure the concept plan meets or exceeds all applicable land-use standards and regulations.”
The concept plan shows access roads from Erda Way, Liddell Land, and Church Road. It also shows two access roads from state Route 36.
Pending approval by the Utah Department of Transportation, the south access road from SR-36 would be right-in, right-out only. Traffic at the north SR-36 access road would be monitored with UDOT determining when a traffic signal is needed to protect public safety, according to Bills.
The site where Virg’s Diner is located, which is owned by the Church, is not included in the rezone application or concept plan.
“Discussions are ongoing about relocation of the restaurant,” Bills said.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, announced the building of eight new temples, including one in Tooele Valley, during the closing session of the Church’s April 2019 General Conference .
In September 2019, the Church announced the Tooele Valley temple would be built on the northwest corner of state Route 36 and Erda Way, where the Church already owned around 170 acres of land.
The temple will be three stories high and about 70,000 square feet, according to the September 2019 announcement.
An adjacent 20,000-square-foot meetinghouse that will be part of the temple project was also announced at the same time.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown in Tooele County over the last two decades.
Twenty years ago there were five Latter-day Saint stakes in Tooele County; today there are 11. Six stakes are centered in Tooele City, two in Grantsville, two in Stansbury Park, and one in Erda.
A stake is a regional organization composed of several wards, or local congregations.
Also in Tooele County, Wendover and Ibapah, along with West Wendover, Nevada, are part of a mission district, an organization similar to a stake.
For Latter-day Saints, temples are not regular places of Sunday worship. They are quite different from regular chapels or meetinghouses, according to newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org, an official website of the Church.
Latter-day Saint temples are considered houses of God, a place of holiness and peace separate from the preoccupations of the world. They provide a place where church members make formal promises and commitments to God. They are also the place where the highest sacraments of the faith occur — the marriage of couples and the sealing of families for eternity, according to the church’s website.