Summarized by Kent Larsen
LDS Church asks to be a party in plaza suit
Deseret News 6Dec99 N1
By Alan Edwards: Deseret News staff writer
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Worried that its interests in the ACLU's
lawsuit against the sale by Salt Lake City of a one-block stretch of
Main Street in Salt Lake City, the LDS Church has asked the U.S.
District Court to include it in the lawsuit. The ACLU filed suit last
week opposing the terms of the sale of the street to the Church
because it deprives protestors of an important venue.
"(The church) has a substantial interest in the real property which
is the subject matter of the suit, and disposition of the suit may
materially impair that interest," says the LDS Church's motion, filed
on Monday. "Moreover, the present parties in the suit will not
adequately protect (the church's) interest."
LDS Church Presiding Bishop H. David Burton told the Deseret News
that he is confident the outcome of the lawsuit will favor the
Church, "We feel our base is very, very solid. We went through a very
extensive public process - community councils, Landmarks Committee,
Planning Commission, City Council, taking care of the
administration's requests, traffic studies. This took a long period
of time, and none of the plaintiffs ever showed up in the public
process. We're a little bit surprised that after the public process
Neither the ACLU, nor the city is surprised at the Church's petition
to be included. "It is not a surprise to us that the church wants to
intervene," said ACLU Utah's executive director Carol Gnade. "It's
one of the things we expected." Gnade says the ACLU didn't include
the Church in the lawsuit because the Church control speech on the
property prior to the sale. "Our complaint is with the city. It was
the transaction, the easement, that was worked out in the City
Council that we're challenging."
Salt Lake City Attorney Roger Cutler also said he expected the
Church's involvement. "This is really their issue at this point," he
said. "We didn't see how the matter could be adjudicated without them
being a party."