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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 07, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Big Sky residents petition to stop plans for Mormon church
Billings MT Gazette 5May00 D1
By John Miller

BIG SKY, MONTANA -- A petition to block construction of a proposed LDS Church has drawn the signatures of about 200 residents worried about sprawl, effect on wildlife and their views. The zoning for the LDS Church's three-acre site permits a church as a 'conditional use.' And the LDS Church's engineers and architects say that the opposition is based more on emotion than on fact.

"This is exactly the type of thing the zoning was meant to eliminate," Marjorie Knaub to the Gazette in an interview Thursday, "The new town center (further west) in Westfork Meadows would be a perfect spot for a church.They've even got a church drawn into their plans."

Zachary Lowe of MSE-HKM Engineering says that much of the opposition is premature, "Right now, (church officials) just want to build a small facility," said Lowe, noting that preliminary plans include a 12,000-square-foot 'Phase Two' addition that would not be built for the foreseeable future because there are only 10 people attending the LDS branch for whom the building would be built.

Joe Crabtree, the Missoula-based architect employed by the Church, notes that should the Church wish to build the addition, it would still need to obtain a second permit. "What's stirring the emotions, maybe (Big Sky residents) are afraid if they let churches in, then gas stations will follow. I heard people say they were afraid of the 'domino effect' " Crabtree said. "Call it an institutional use. Call it a church use. But this is not a commercial use," he said.

The petition is a new strike against the building since the Gallatin Canyon/Big Sky Advisory Board has voted 3-1 against the project. The Gallatin Canyon/Big Sky Zoning Commission will consider the project next Thursday at 9 a.m.


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