Strip Club Wins Legal Victory in Fight with LDS Church

Strip Club Wins Legal Victory in Fight with LDS Church

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A judge has ruled against the LDS church in a lawsuit it brought against Salt Lake City after officials granted a downtown strip club a license

Judge Denise Lindberg's ruling Wednesday was a victory for the Dead Goat Saloon, which received its sexually oriented business license from the city before the city joined forces with the church in the lawsuit.

In her 29-page ruling, Lindberg noted how strange it was for lawyers representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the city attorney to sit at the same table during oral arguments since the church was suing the city.

She also said the city has done little to defend its decisions to grant the so-called SOB license, which the city now argues should be revoked.

The church had argued the city was wrong when it granted the license two years ago because the saloon -- even though set back on the street -- is too close to West Temple Street.

The city forbids such businesses from locating within 165 feet of such "gateway corridors," presumably to prevent passers-by from seeing sights associated with a strip club. Dancing at the Dead Goat is conducted underground and the club has no windows.

Neither the church nor the city has "suggested how SOB activities occurring in an underground portion of the establishment . . . would manifest themselves in ways that would affect the gateway corridor. ... ÛTheÝ court cannot conclude that the saloon's occupancy of a windowless, below-ground premises creates or exacerbates any of the problems that the 165 ÛfootÝ setback requirement was designed to mitigate," Lindberg wrote.

Lindberg also denied another church argument that the club shouldn't have received a license because the city council had passed a temporary ordinance barring such businesses downtown.

However, the club had grandfather rights because the regulation was passed in response to the Dead Goat receiving the application, the judge ruled.

In separate proceedings, the church maintains the saloon is a public and private nuisance, and contents the saloon will interfere with its redevelopment of its 20 acres of property to the north and its plans to revamp the Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center malls.

"If we are, in fact, operating within the city ordinances, the next logical step is we're not a nuisance. I'll give you a 98 percent chance this is over and we win," predicted Andrew McCullough, an attorney for the Dead Goat.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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