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Changes being proposed to temple

December 14, 2001

June Casagrande

NEWPORT BEACH -- It may not have a shining gold angel on top, but city

officials hope that a towering cherry picker adorned with floodlights

will give residents a feel for living with a Mormon temple's

124-foot-high steeple.

Meetings between planners of the proposed 17,500-square-foot temple,

proposed to be built near the intersection of Bonita Canyon Drive and

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MacArthur Boulevard, and the building's future neighbors have turned out

several ideas to assuage residents' concerns about the project, City

Councilman Steve Bromberg said.

The biggest: setting up a dummy steeple in the form of a crane city

officials plan to park on the temple site. The crane could be in place

Jan. 1 or shortly afterward.

"This will give people at least some idea of what it will be like to

live with the temple day and night," Bromberg said.

Like the city, church representatives are also getting creative in

ways to accommodate neighbors. They are considering painting the temple a

few shades darker than the off-white originally planned, and they now say

they will turn out the ground lights at 11 p.m. -- a change from a

previous proposal to keep the lights on 24 hours.

"We want very much to be good neighbors," said Weatherford Clayton, a

representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.But

flexibility stops where heaven steps in: Many of the design details are

about God and therefore nonnegotiable. Lights radiating upward from the

ground onto the walls have a religious significance. A white or

near-white color is required by Salt Lake City designers, who church

members believe are divinely guided.

And the towering steeple, topped by a lighted gold statue of the angel

Moroni, is designed to lift the eye and the attentions toward the sky.

Church officials aren't budging on the steeple height. And, unlike the

ground lights cast onto the walls of the building, the lights on Moroni

will probably stay on 24 hours.

"I am very encouraged that the church is listening to the concerns of

he people, and I have every reason to believe they're going to continue

working with the people," Bromberg said. "Obviously, the challenge is to

strike a balance."

Except for the steeple, the proposed temple is within all city

guidelines. But it is at the discretion of city officials whether to

allow the steeple, because it exceeds 50-foot height limits for the area

by 74 feet.

The city Planning Commission could get its first crack at the temple

issue by February. If it approves the plans, the City Council will get

the final say.

* 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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