Anaheim : Mormon Church Plan for Hills Withdrawn

Amid criticism from residents worried about losing "a serene setting" and "the last rural pocket" in Anaheim, sponsors Wednesday withdrew their proposal to build a Mormon church in the Anaheim Hills neighborhood.

"It's the wrong development for the wrong place," Planning Commission Chairwoman Charlene LaClaire told the crowd of about 50 residents after more than two hours of testimony during the public hearing.

"We've obviously lost," William E. Perron of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said to the commissioners. To the applause of the crowd, Perron withdrew an application to build a 24,800-square-foot church and a 50-foot-high tower on the southwest side of Fairmont Boulevard.

Perron expressed disappointment after the meeting and said the church has invested "a lot of time and money" in 11.13 acres of land it purchased about seven years ago for the church.

Perron said he did not expect that the church would appeal the commission's decision to the City Council "if viable alternatives" are available. He would not elaborate Wednesday afternoon on what those alternatives might be but said: "I don't see any reason to appeal to the council."

"We live in the community. We are a church in the community," Perron said, adding that his group would look for another site.

Residents representing different homeowner associations near the area said the project had the potential to generate excessive traffic on Fairmont Boulevard and Old Bridge Road. They said the area was the site of several accidents. "It doesn't take a genius to recognize how dangerous Fairmont Boulevard is," resident Leonard Casey said.

Opponents also said the church, which would have occupied half an acre of the 11.13-acre site, would create noise and destroy a rural atmosphere.

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