City planners are reconsidering their 100-foot recommendation for
a Mormon temple steeple in light of new information that shows the
existing stake center's steeple is shorter than city documents state.
The 100-foot limit recommended by city officials late last month
was a compromise between the 124-foot steeple church planners
requested and the allegedly 86-foot steeple on the church's existing
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints representatives have
said that the temple's steeple must be more prominent than that of
the stake center to reflect the building's greater religious
significance. But, as revealed by a resident who hired a surveyor,
the stake center steeple is no more than 68 feet.
"That means they could achieve their objective with just a 75-foot
steeple," said Allen Murray, a neighbor of the proposed temple who
hired the surveyor to measure the existing steeple on behalf of a
group of homeowners near the site.
Asst. City Manager Sharon Wood dispatched surveyors to verify the
results of Murray's survey. Murray's survey recorded a 67.3-foot
height for the stake center steeple, the city survey measured it at
68 feet. Neither measurement includes an attached lightning rod.
Wood said that, in light of the new information, staff may change
its recommendation to an even lower height. The 86-foot
point-of-reference, city and church officials said, was based on the
original permits for the project approved by the city of Irvine.
"We were using the best information we had available to us," said
Weatherford Clayton, president of the church's existing stake center,
adding that much of their information was based on the original
But he emphasized that just because the stake center steeple is
shorter than documents show, it doesn't necessarily mean that the
temple steeple should also be shortened.
"It needs to be higher, but there's no set ratio," Clayton said.
"It's important that the steeple fit in with the architecture of the
Some homeowners say the new information casts an unflattering
light on church representatives and city planners. They also say that
it is typical of the problems they have had all along in getting
complete and accurate information about temple plans.
"I think this bears out our huge credibility issues in dealing
with these people," Bonita Canyon Homeowners Assn. President Steven
Brombal pointed out that, while temple planners have emphasized
that only about 150 people at a time will use the facility, planners
have not specified what the turnover rate will be.
He also said he is concerned that the temple plans include
lighting the building from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. five days a week.
All these issues are expected to come to a head Thursday when the
matter comes up for a final vote of the city's Planning Commission.
Regardless of their vote, the matter could also eventually land in
front of the City Council.
* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport.
She may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at