By Kent Larsen
LDS Grain Silo Site Called 'Unfortunate'
MESA, ARIZONA -- Last month the Mesa Design Review Committee, a local
zoning board, turned down a request from the LDS Church for
permission to build five new grain silos next to the four it already
owns near the western end of Mesa, Arizona, a Phoenix suburb. One of
the committee members is now calling the location of the current
silos "unfortunate," saying that they don't make a very nice gateway
to Mesa. The Church's project manager for the silos, John Bezzant,
expressed surprise at the opposition, because the silos are in an
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants to triple the
capacity of its grain-storage operation in Mesa, part of the LDS
welfare system for the Phoenix area, in order to meet expected growth
in the area. The four current silos, built in 1981, are each 130 feet
tall and hold about 50,000 bushels of grain. To meet demand, the
Church wanted to build, in the same area, an additional five silos
that are 16 feet taller than the current ones.
Needing a height variance from local zoning officials, the Church
presented their plans for the proposed silos to the Design Review
Committee in August, which turned down the request. One of the
committee members, Bob Saemisch, a local architect, complained that
the current silos, located northeast of Broadway Road and the (Loop
101) Price Freeway, and a city wastewater treatment plant near the
Price and Red Mountain (Loop 202) freeways don't make a very nice
gateway to Mesa. "It's an unfortunate location that we continue to
struggle with," he said.
Bezzant, the church's project manager, says that he was surprised at
the opposition, because the area is already an industrial area, and
because elsewhere, cities are trying to preserve silos, "In Tempe,
they're doing what they can to preserve silos. In Mesa, some
individuals now see it as not a nice community environment," he said.
The LDS church will now talk with neighbors and scale back the
proposed silos to the same height as the existing ones, hoping to
still get the silos through the zoning process. Saemisch refused to
comment on the proposal because it hasn't yet reached the committee.
The silo's are part of the LDS Church's welfare operations in the
Phoenix area, including farms in Queen Creek and Maricopa, and a
small Mesa canning/bottling factory and a bishop's storehouse located
next to the silos. The issue led the Arizona Republic to explore the
extent of the system in its coverage, noting that it is "a
sophisticated system that provides food for the hungry, stores it for
disasters and helps other food banks."
Like the welfare operations elsewhere, the canning/bottling facility
and the bishop's storehouse are run by volunteers. The cannery is the
only non-profit cannery in the Phoenix area, attracting non-LDS food
banks in the area who use its facilities, "The Church of Latter-day
Saints has done a phenomenal job for us," said George Pohlmann,
executive director of the Mesa-based United Food Bank.
Good neighbor, bad view
Phoenix AZ Republic 27Sep01 B1
By Betty Beard: The Arizona Republic
Plans to expand L-D-S grain silos raises controversy
Phoenix AZ KNXV TV15 (AP) 27Sep01 B1