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For week ended July 04, 1999 Posted 17 Jul 1999

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Crowded court docket delays temple trial again

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Crowded court docket delays temple trial again
Belmont MA Citizen-Herald 1Jul99 C3
By Adriana Bobinchock: Citizen-Herald staff writer

Again the LDS Church and Church members in the Boston area will have to wait to see if construction on the Boston Temple's steeple can proceed. The trial date for a legal challenge by six neighbors of the temple was postponed again on Tuesday due to the backlog of cases in Middlesex Superior Court.

Plaintiff's attorney Art Krieger told the Belmont Citizen Herald about the delay, "It's not happening next week based on the court schedule," he said. The plaintiffs originally filed suit against the Belmont Zoning Board of Appeals and against the LDS Church, claiming that the Board misinterpreted Massachusetts law in granting the Church a variance to construct a 139-foot steeple on the Temple. The steeple exceeds the height restrictions in the town's zoning laws. Originally scheduled to be heard in December, the case has been postponed several times since then.

The LDS Church's attorney, Ken Harvey, says that the Belmont Zoning Board of Appeals interpreted the law correctly. "We went through six, seven, eight different [public hearings], we got the approval and then basically redesigned the plans and got another approval," said Harvey. "We think it's highly unlikely [the court would decide against the church]. We are quite confident we will win."

Once the trial does begin, it is expected to take about three days, but the trial judge could take up to six months to issue his decision. "The judge really has all the discretion in the world," said Harvey. "[The decision] could come as quick as a couple of months or it could be as long as six months. It could go longer. We anticipate it will take up to six months." In addition, if the decision could be appealed by either party, which could still delay construction of the steeple.

"We cannot begin construction of the steeple until we receive a favorable decision," said Harvey. "The others can then appeal, which would put it on hold again, which would be a shame because we would have to open a church without a steeple."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information