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LDS Church's Provo MTC will expand south into BYU campus

Published: Thursday, Nov. 14 2013 6:35 p.m. MST

Front of the Missionary Training Center, MTC, in Provo.  Jan. 14, 2008 (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) Front of the Missionary Training Center, MTC, in Provo. Jan. 14, 2008 (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

PROVO — The expansion in the number of LDS missionaries over the past year will be met with an expansion of the church's flagship missionary training center in Provo.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced plans to expand the Provo Missionary Training Center to the south of the existing MTC campus where the BYU Laundry Building and the Auxiliary Maintenance Building are currently located," church spokesman Cody Craynor said Wednesday night.

"Design of the expansion is ongoing and further details will be provided in neighborhood meetings and in announcements in the coming months.”

To make room for new laundry and auxiliary buildings across the street from where they are now, BYU will remove one quad of apartments in its Wymount Terrace married-student housing complex, university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.

In this Jan. 8, 2013, photo, Mormon missionaries walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. In October, the LDS Church lowered the minimum age for missionary service. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press) In this Jan. 8, 2013, photo, Mormon missionaries walk through the halls at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. In October, the LDS Church lowered the minimum age for missionary service. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

The announcement came one night after the Provo Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend that the City Council approve a proposal to rezone the MTC campus. If the council approves, the MTC will be zoned with a new designation called a Training Facility Zone.

The current zoning for the MTC gives it immense leeway in the use of its property. The proposed zone would add restrictions that essentially are self-imposed, sources said.

"The LDS Church voluntarily went through a process to create a new zone that will limit what it can do more than the previous zone did," Provo Community Development Director Gary McGinn said. "They restructured their rights so people in the neighborhood would be comfortable with what they're doing and the direction they're going."

For one thing, the new zone restricts buildings to an effective height of 125 feet — 100 feet for the building and 25 feet for mechanical equipment on the roof. There essentially is no height restriction in zoning the MTC has now.

The church withdrew plans for a 160-foot, nine-story MTC building in October 2012 after some neighbors expressed concern about the height. The church then announced it was looking to use some combination of two footprints to expand the MTC campus. One of the footprints was on the south where the BYU laundry and auxiliary building are. The other is across the street from the MTC to the east toward the Provo Temple on 27 acres.

Church President Thomas S. Monson announced a reduction in the age of service for full-time missionaries in October 2012. The announcement spurred a tremendous surge in the number of missionaries that rendered the MTC undersized. The number of missionaries serving in 405 missions around the world leaped from 58,000 in October 2012 to 80,333 last month, President Monson said on Oct. 5.

The church opened a new MTC in Mexico at the end of June, bringing its global number of MTCs to 15, from Africa to Europe and South America. It also opened a temporary expansion of the Provo MTC about a mile away in converted student apartments at the Raintree Commons and BYU's Wyview Park.

Provoan George Frey joined a group of Pleasant View neighborhood residents at a meeting with MTC project officials on Tuesday. He said, "We're pleased that additional details have been announced, and we're excited for the expansion of the MTC for the expanded missionary program of the church. This is a positive step and we look forward to more positive progress on a project we hope works well for everyone."

The MTC will gain access to 12 acres of land where the laundry and auxiliary buildings are located. The LDS Church operates BYU. The university will remove the 72 married housing units in Quad 7 of Wymount Terrace, Jenkins said. Wymount has 898 apartments and a 3 percent vacancy rate.

"Although the quad will need to be removed to accommodate the two buildings, residents will be able to stay in their apartments throughout the fall and winter semesters," Jenkins said. "BYU is working through the details of the two new buildings, which we will share as plans are finalized."

University officials met with Quad 7 residents on Thursday night. Those who wish to stay beyond April will be able to move within the Wymount complex.

"Given the missionary age change, we are reviewing the patterns and trends in all our single-student and married-student housing," she said.

The campus restructuring will not affect any jobs, Jenkins added.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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