Summarized by Kent Larsen
Calendar becomes new foe for Mormon temple's steeple
Boston Globe 21Nov99 D1
By Caroline Louise Cole: Globe Correspondent
BELMONT, MASSACHUSETTS -- The LDS Church may be at a disadvantage in its
on-going dispute with neighbors of the new Boston Massachusetts Temple
because of timing concerns. The Church had hoped that the dispute over
the Temple's steeple could be resolved in time for it to be completed
before the building's dedication ceremonies, but court delays are making
that increasingly unlikely.
The LDS Church received permission from the Belmont Zoning Board of
Appeals for a variance to build a 139-foot steeple where a 72-foot
steeple is allowed by regulations. But six of the building's neighbors
appealed the Zoning Board's decision to Middlesex Superior Court, where
their lawsuit awaits a trial date. The Church is pushing for a December
date, after repeated delays have delayed the trial for more than a year.
LDS Church spokesman Kenneth Harvey explain's the Church's position:
"We're told we need six to eight months to build the steeple, not
because the construction itself is complicated but because it could take
several months to bring back a crew to the site. The court is
backlogged. To use an aviation analogy, they have us circling over the
airport waiting for an open runway, but they seem to think we have
unlimited fuel tanks. It's very frustrating."
The Temple itself is close to completion. Exterior work is nearly done
and interior work is about 50 percent complete. Window frames should be
set into place over the next few weeks and stained glass put in place
after that, according to Harvey. The spire will be roofed over
temporarily until the dispute is resolved.
The building is also the subject of a second lawsuit by neighbors who
claim that a Massachusetts law, the so-called Dover amendment, violates
the U.S. Constitution's separation of Church and State. The town of
Belmont relied on the Dover amendment, which allows Churches and Schools
to bypass some local zoning restrictions, in granting the LDS Church
permission to build. While a federal judge ruled that the Dover
amendment is constitutional last May, the plaintiffs have appealed, and
a trial date for the dispute is expected to be set in February or March.