Steeple stand-in to hang around longer

June Casagrande

NEWPORT BEACH -- Bending to public pressure, planners of a Mormon

temple have extended the length of time a costly crane will stand in for

a proposed 124-foot steeple.

On Jan. 28, a crane will park at 2300 Bonita Canyon Drive and stay

there through Feb. 1, its cherry picker stretched 124 feet into the sky

to give residents a chance to gauge the effects of the steeple of the

proposed temple. Representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of

Latter-day Saints will also send out letters to neighbors telling them

about the opportunity to see the crane.

"We were asking for it to be put up for two months, at the very least

two weeks," said Steven Brombal, head of the Bonita Canyon Homeowners

Assn. who led the charge for a longer chance to view the crane and better

notice to homeowners.

At $175 an hour to rent the equipment, five days was as far as temple

planners were willing to go. They originally planned to put it up for

just three days and two nights, from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30.

Brombal, whose association represents residents of 287 homes, said

that the steeple is his group's primary concern.

"I don't think that kind of intrusionary symbolism with a height over

70% of what's already there should be thrust on the community," he said.

The city has a 50-foot height limit for the area, but can choose to

grant a use permit to allow the steeple. Building color, lighting,

landscaping and traffic are also concerns for neighbors. But the spire,

topped by a gold angel statue, is the only element so far identified to

be outside city guidelines.

"The steeple is the only item I see at this point that does not meet

standards," Senior Planner Jim Campbell said.

The project will come before the Planning Commission probably in March

or April, Campbell added.

Church officials have stood firm on the subject of the steeple,

though. It symbolizes a connection between earth and the heavens and

makes the temple itself a site holy enough for certain rituals.

"This is a place for things we consider the most sacred of all things

that happen on earth," said Weatherford Clayton, president of the

church's existing stake center adjacent to the site of the proposed

temple.

* 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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