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Salt Lake City mayor offers up compromise • Tuesday December 17, 2002

Salt Lake City mayor offers up compromise in Mormon church battle over Main Street plaza
AP, Dec. 16, 2002
CATHERINE S. BLAKE, Associated Press Writer

The city offered a compromise Monday in an effort to resolve a fight over the Mormon church’s attempt to ban public demonstrations on the church’s Main Street Plaza — a former city street.

Mayor Rocky Anderson proposed that the city give up a sidewalk pedestrian easement it retained when it sold the block-long section of Main Street to the church, in exchange for 2.17 acres of church-owned land on the city’s west side. The deal would require City Council approval.

Bishop David Burton said the mayor’s idea represents a “workable solution” that he would take to leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church had been prepared to appeal its case over control of the plaza to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The church paid $8.1 million for a block-long section of Main Street in 1999 and turned it into an extension of Temple Square.

The dispute arose after the church banned actions it considers offensive, including smoking, sunbathing and “any illegal, offensive, indecent, obscene, vulgar, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct.” It also claimed the right to ban anyone who violated the rules.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah sued on behalf of Salt Lake City’s First Unitarian Church and others, arguing the restrictions were unconstitutional.

In October, a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned a lower court judge, ruling that the plaza must remain open to free speech, including protests, because of the city’s public easement.

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