The Town Council has given final approval to plans for a giant-screen theater next to Zion National Park.
The council voted unanimously this week to approve a permit for California-based World Odyssey to build the controversial 300-seat indoor theater, which will be joined by a 12,000-square-foot retail complex and a parking lot, at the entrance to the most popular of Utah's five national parks.
Company officers said they expect construction to begin immediately.
Proponents hope the project will breath life into the economy of this tiny community of 275 in southwestern Utah.
The approval was given despite a storm of protests from environmentalists and others worried that the project would detract from the majestic scenery of the 146,000-acre park, which drew 2.3 million visitors last year.
Opponents say the project is inappropriate for the area and will disturb campers in Zion's main campground, which is directly across the Virgin River from the site.
Springdale Mayor Bob Ralston said he does not think it is too close.
The theater, which will be mostly underground and tucked into a hillside, would feature a 59-foot-high, 70-foot-wide screen showing a 37-minute film titled "Treasures," a chronicle of the historical and natural attractions of the area.