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LDS Church Sues City to Block Strip Club

LDS Church Sues City to Block Strip Club

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The LDS church is suing Salt Lake City to stop the Dead Goat Saloon from becoming a stripper bar, which the church says would hurt its downtown commercial enterprises.

The suit filed Wednesday in 3rd District Court claims the planned strip club would harm Property Reserve Inc., an arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church entity plans to redevelop Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center. The two malls are across the street and a block away from the Dead Goat at Arrow Press Square.

The suit asks Judge Denise Lindberg to overturn the city Board of Adjustment. They church attorneys argue that the sexually oriented business ordinance -- which prevents such businesses from opening too close to parks, historic landmarks, gateway corridors and residents -- was improperly applied.

They contend the Dead Goat is too close to two private parks, to the historic Zion's Bank, to the Salt Lake Community College and to the condominiums at American Towers.

However, the city doesn't count private green space as parks, and the condos are not zoned as residential.

Dead Goat owner Daniel Darger said he was not surprised by the church suit.

"There will be a full-court press until the Mormon version of Vatican City is established," he said.

Darger had sought a license for a sexually oriented business to turn his blues-music venue into a burlesque operation. After getting preliminary approval for the license, he announced he had decided to make it a stripper bar.

Alan Sullivan, the church's lead attorney, declined to comment.

The Souvenir Stop in ZCMI Center is also part of the suit. Owner Steve Christopher said he fears a strip club would deter tourists from shopping at his store.

The Dead Goat "is right across from the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau," he said. "We are highly dependent on tourist traffic. We've already seen that one of Darger's other businesses has been detrimental to tourism. The Blue Boutique (a lingerie shop in Arrow Press Square) causes a lot of heartburn for tourists. They don't think it should be in Salt Lake. I agree."

Mayor Rocky Anderson, his mayoral challenger Frank Pignanelli and City Council members don't want sexually oriented businesses downtown. The council recently issued a moratorium against such businesses, though apparently it is too late to apply to the Dead Goat's application.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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