Timing of temple plan criticized

June Casagrande

NEWPORT BEACH -- A crane standing in for a 124-foot steeple is too

little, too late, some neighbors of a proposed Mormon temple say.

Temple planners, who proposed putting up a crane from Jan. 28 to Jan.

30 to give neighbors a feel for what it will be like to live with the

spire, were met with skepticism Thursday from some community leaders who

said that's not enough time for everyone to get a look.

But at $175 an hour to rent the crane, keeping it up two weeks isn't a

good alternative, church officials told homeowners association leaders at

a meeting that was also attended by city officials and City Hall

representatives.

Some, such as Bonita Canyon Homeowners Assn. President Steve Brombal,

also said that Jan. 28 date doesn't leave enough time to notify residents

about their brief window of opportunity to view the crane.

"I think that's a pretty disingenuous attempt to notify our

community," said Brombal, whose association represents 287 homes.

Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

have been meeting regularly with residents who live around the site of a

17,500-square-foot temple proposed to be built near the intersection of

Bonita Canyon Drive and MacArthur Boulevard, and estimated to cost at

least $10 million.

So far, the temple appears to meet all city guidelines but one: Its

124-foot-high steeple, topped by a golden statue of the trumpeting Angel

Moroni, exceeds the 50-foot height limit for the area. The city has the

option of permitting the temple as-is, but, as church officials know,

earning the blessing of neighbors could make or break the project at

upcoming Planning Commission and City Council meetings.

"I am certain that as we move ahead and this is completed that you

will be pleased," Weatherford Clayton, president of the church's existing

stake center, assured the eight homeowners association leaders at the

meeting.

The steeple isn't the only concern neighbors have expressed about the

proposed project. Lighting on the building's exterior has drawn enough

concern that temple planner Joseph Bentley requested and earned the

church's approval to turn off all the building's lights at 11 p.m. --

including the lights on the angel statue. Church leaders have also agreed

to mute the color of the building -- from an off-white color to an

earth-tone shade of seashell.

Hoping to accommodate the residents, church leaders are considering

ways to notify the public as quickly as possible about the three-day,

two-night opportunity to view the crane. They also could move to a later

date the crane's appearance. And they're quick to point out that the more

than 1,000 members of two Harbor View homeowners groups have voiced no

public opposition to the project.

* June Casagrande covers Newport Beach. She may be reached at (949)

574-4232 or by e-mail at o7 june.casagrande@latimes.comf7 .

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