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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 16, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 14Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

New Lawsuit Challenges Plaza Sale
Salt Lake Tribune 14Apr00 N1
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Utah ACLU has filed a second lawsuit against Salt Lake City challenging the city's sale of a one block stretch of Main street to the LDS Church. The lawsuit, filed yesterday, claims that city leaders ignored their own law in permitting the sale of the property.

ACLU attorney Stephen Clark says that the City Planning Commission outlined in March 1999 15 criteria for the deal. One of the criteria mandated that "there be no restrictions on the use of this space that are more restrictive than is currently permitted at a public park." But when the criteria were recognized by the City Council, that criteria was missing. Clark says this invalidates the ordinance that the sale was based on, "It's a very simple proposition," Clark says. "If we're right about the construction of the ordinance, the street can't be closed and the pedestrian plaza can't be built based on the current document."

The sale was first proposed by former Mayor Deedee Corradini and LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. The ACLU's challenge to the sale, based on complaints by the National Organization for Women and members of the First Unitarian Church, among others, is because of a list of rules written by city and church attorneys, and agreed to by the City Council, in which "illegal, offensive, indecent, obscene, vulgar, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct" was prohibited on the plaza while the LDS Church could play music or speeches, pass out pamphlets and kick out offenders.

The other lawsuit filed by the ACLU claims that these restrictions are unconstitutional. But Clark says that this new lawsuit could make the challenge to the constitutionality moot, because the missing Planning Commission requirement invalidates the sale.

City Attorney Roger Cutler says that Clark is grasping at straws in the latest lawsuit. "That's absurd," Cutler says. "Anyone who knows anything about city government knows the Planning Commission is an advisory, not a binding, body."


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