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Posted 29 Sep 2001   For week ended September 28, 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 28Sep01

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 industrial area.

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


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