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Temple vote appeal uncertain

October 05, 2002

June Casagrande

The president of the homeowners association that was most active

in opposing a Mormon temple said his group has not yet decided

whether they will ask the City Council to revisit the Planning

Commission's approval of the project.

But in the weeks to come, it's possible that any of the hundreds

of residents who wrote or phoned city officials to oppose the temple

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could appeal. And City Councilman Steve Bromberg, whose district

includes the temple site at 2300 Bonita Canyon Drive, says that if

residents ask him to bring up the matter before the council, he will.

"In fairness, if that's what the residents want, I'll do that,"

Bromberg said.

Bonita Canyon Homeowners Assn. President Steven Brombal, who has

been a leader of the opposition to the project, said it is unclear

whether his association members would benefit from revisiting the

issue. The more important issue, he said, is that residents now are

all aware of a discrepancy between the reported 86-foot height of the

existing stake center's steeple and its actual height of 68 feet,

revealed by a resident survey.

"We're a little disappointed with the whole process," Brombal

said. "But we certainly feel victorious from a standpoint of just

pointing out how disingenuous this group has been from the get-go."

Planning Commission Chairman Steven Kiser made the credibility

issue the first order of business Thursday night, calling forth

representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to

ask who knew about the discrepancy and why they hadn't pointed it

out.

Church architect Ralph Martin and church representative Joe

Bentley both admitted that they had known that the stake center

steeple was less than 86 feet and both offered apologies. Martin said

that the issue had come up in previous discussions with the city, but

that those discussions had occurred long before the staff report was

published with the incorrect 86-foot measure as a basis for their

100-foot recommendation.

The 86-foot figure was based on the original city of Irvine

approvals for the stake center. But though that city had allowed an

86-foot steeple, the church later built it at only 68 feet.

Some city officials hope that Thursday's decision to allow a 99

foot 9 inch steeple on the new temple will be a compromise both sides

can live with. Community members have 14 days to appeal the decision,

which costs about $700. Any City Council member can ask to bring the

matter before the council. As of Friday, though, no one had

officially sought to have the issue revisited.

"We're very pleased with the decision and grateful for what

they've done," said Weatherford Clayton, president of the church's

Newport Beach stake center. "We appreciate the neighbors in the area

and as this temple comes to fruition I'm certain that almost all of

them will be very pleased with the effect it will have on their

neighborhood."

Clayton said that the church has not yet set a date to begin work

on the new temple but that they hope to begin work as soon as

possible after the 14-day appeal period.

* JUNE CASAGRANDE covers Newport Beach and John Wayne Airport.

She may be reached at (949) 574-4232 or by e-mail at

june.casagrande@latimes.com.

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