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For week ended December 12, 1999 Posted 18 Dec 1999

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LDS Church asks to be a party in plaza suit

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 they come."

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."

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