Only three Anchorage buildings, all on the Downtown skyline, are taller than the proposed cross: the East Tower of the Hilton Anchorage at 243 feet tall, the 265-foot-tall Robert B. Atwood Building and the state’s tallest structure, the 296-foot-high ConocoPhillips Building.
The temple’s request to the FAA lists a planned construction window for the cross from June 2012 to November 2013.
ABT pastor Dr. Jerry Prevo told Channel 2 News Friday night that the proposal is in very preliminary stages. He said the church is just trying to see if it's even feasible, after an Anchorage resident approached him with drawings of the cross.
"He presented it to another church and that church wasn't interested, and I seriously doubt if it's going to fit on our piece of property," Prevo said. "It's very preliminary. I've not discussed it with anybody."
Al Barrett, a supervisor for current planning with the Planning Division of the Municipality of Anchorage’s Department of Community Development, says the city has jurisdiction over zoning requirements for the proposed cross, as it does for the temple’s main buildings, but that ABT has not yet filed a request for a structural permit with the city.
Barrett says the city would generally consider a cross to be an accessory structure to the temple itself, which zoning regulations would require to be no higher than the temple building. Any cross would require a structural permit and inspections, as well as certification to bear wind and snow loads.
Building a 230-foot-tall cross would also require ABT to seek a height variance from the Zoning Board, Barrett said, which would be considered at a public hearing.
According to Robert van Haastert, a specialist with the FAA’s Obstruction Evaluation Service, the planned cross slightly over a mile southeast of Merrill Field is taller than the 200-foot threshold at which it requires lighting as a navigational hazard -- a key factor in the Cross at the Crossroads’ 198-foot height. That lighting can take multiple forms, however, including blinking red lights on top or illumination from below by floodlights on the ground, an option being considered by the temple.
Prevo said at this point, he's just checking to see if the plan is even possible.
"I think it's very preliminary. If the FAA should sign off on it then we would look to see zoning, if it goes that far," Prevo said. "Then the next step is to look at if it would be financially feasible and so forth."
Haastert says the FAA will be taking public comments through May 3 on the proposed cross. He emphasized that evaluators can’t address zoning or speech issues and would only consider comments on technical aspects of the project related to aviation safety, such as whether the cross should have more lights for better visibility to aviators.
“If you’re going to say, ‘This 230-foot-tall cross will be an eyesore,’ then sorry -- the FAA doesn’t do eyesores,” Haastert said.
Comments can be submitted to the FAA by clicking the “Add Comment” link on the FAA’s data page for the cross, or by mail to the following address:
Mail Processing Center
Federal Aviation Administration
Southwest Regional Office
Obstruction Evaluation Group
2601 Meacham Boulevard
Fort Worth, TX 76137
Any written correspondence should reference the FAA’s case number for the proposed cross, 2012-AAL-97-OE.
Editor's note: References to the proposed cross being the world's tallest have been revised due to competing claims made for other crosses; stated heights and qualifications vary among sources.
Email Christine Kim