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PROVO — After nearly seven months of dispute over a proposed nine-story building as part of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have dropped the building proposal.
The initial announcement of the structure, which would have replaced the Melvin J. Ballard building, drew mixed reaction from residents. Concerns ranged from property value and blocked views of neighboring homes, to being too imposing. Other residents, however, were thrilled about the expansion.
According to LDS Church Spokesperson Michael Purdy on Friday, "expansion of the MTC is necessary" and the church will continue to work towards a solution that will build upon "the long-standing working relationship between the MTC, BYU, and the community at large."
"Church leaders have determined that, due to a number of complexities and concerns, we will not move forward with the nine-story building originally proposed," Purdy said in a statement.
Further discussions about the expansion in that community are expected to take place before the project moves forward. It is unknown at this time when and where those discussions will take place.
We appreciate the Church working hard to find a solution to a difficult situation and we look forward to working with them as this unfolds.
–- Provo Mayor John Curtis
Provo Mayor John Curtis expressed his thanks of the decision in a statement Friday.
"We appreciate the Church working hard to find a solution to a difficult situation and we look forward to working with them as this unfolds," he said.
The older buildings on the MTC campus, the LDS Church said, are worn out after decades of heavy use and hinder the implementation of technology.
The MTC accommodates 20,000 new missionaries annually, a number that is expected to rise with last week's announcement that the church recently lowered the minimum age requirement for male and female missionaries from 19 and 21 respectively, to 18 and 19.
That announcement was coupled with another: that missionaries would spend a third of the time in the MTC preparing for the field.
"With a little coordination and revamping, I think they can probably handle these numbers with some of the facilities they already have in place," said BYU professor Brad Wilcox.
The LDS Church has 15 MTCs around the world, including the Provo location.
Wilcox said some of the Provo MTC missionaries may be housed for awhile in BYU dorms during the spring or summer semesters. He said BYU and the MTC have had a very smooth working relationship and he anticipates that that will continue in terms of housing missionaries.
Contributing: Carole Mikita