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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended January 12, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 08Jan01

By Kent Larsen

Boston Temple Opponents Lose Last Appeal

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Supreme Court turned down without comment the request from opponents of the LDS Church's Boston Temple to hear their challenge to a Massachusetts zoning law. The Court's move upheld the ruling of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the law, which the town of Belmont used to allow construction of the Temple. The ruling resolves one of two outstanding challenges to the completion of the Temple.

After the town of Belmont granted a building permit to the LDS Church for construction of the Boston Temple, neighbors of the building filed a 1998 lawsuit, claiming that Massachusetts' so-called Dover amendment unconstitutionally established religion. The law, passed in 1950 in response to the denial of a building permit to a church by the town of Dover, Massachusetts, says local zoning ordinances cannot prohibit the construction of religious, educational and some other buildings in any zoning area, but that the ordinances can set requirements for size, height, parking and open space.

A federal judge and then the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both heard the neighbors case, which claimed that the law unconstitutionally protected religion over other uses. In turning down the opportunity to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court may have implied that the constitution's first amendment prohibits favoring one religion over another, instead of favoring religion over non-religious purposes, as the Temple's opponents argued.

The ruling leaves one lawsuit involving the Temple remaining. Neighbors challenged the town's grant of a zoning variance to the LDS Church that allowed construction of a 139-foot steeple on the building. A state judge ruled earlier this year that the Temple must stay within the zoning law, in spite of an exception granted by the town of Belmont. Mormon News has learned that a hearing on the LDS Church's appeal of that ruling will be held later this week.


Opponents of Mormon temple lose Supreme Court appeal
Boston Globe (AP) 8Jan01 N1
By Laurie Asseo: Associated Press

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