The first Mormon Temple in Orange County broke ground Friday, nine
months after the City Council approved the construction.
Weatherford Clayton, president of the Newport Beach stake center
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the process
of getting permits through the city and approving details through the
church's Salt Lake City headquarters took longer than expected.
"The permits are almost complete, and we hope to have everything
in place very shortly, so this was the right time to break ground,"
Work could be complete in about a year and a half on the
17,575-square-foot project, which is next to the stake center, at
2300 Bonita Canyon Drive.
The temple was the center of a long and heated community debate
after some neighbors objected to the 124-foot steeple and other
visual elements of the original plans. Through a series of public
meetings and discussions, the church ultimately agreed to a steeple
shortened to 90 feet. The outside lighting and the color of the
building were also toned down to blend in better with the area.
The new building on the 8.5-acre site will include public gardens
and water treatments. Once construction is complete, the church will
hold an open house with tours of the facility. After the temple's
dedication, however, some areas will be open only to church members.
The gardens and other areas will continue to be open to the public.
In the Mormon faith, temples are especially holy places and the
only places where certain rites can be performed. For now, the
county's 40,000 Mormons must travel to Los Angeles or San Diego
counties for such ceremonies.
"This temple came about through what was really a Herculean effort
by both parties," said Mayor Steve Bromberg, who helped broker a
compromise for the steeple. "I'm really proud of the people on both
* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport. She
may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at