Downtown strip club suing Mormon church

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) An owner of a popular strip club located less than a block from Temple Square is suing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, claiming the church is trying to drive his business out of the downtown area.

Daniel Darger, a co-owner of the Crazy Goat Saloon, formerly named the Dead Goat Saloon, filed a lawsuit in 3rd District Court this week alleging that Property Reserve Inc., the real-estate arm of the LDS Church, Souvenir Stop, a business in nearby ZCMI Center, and the city of Salt Lake have conspired to interfere with the club’s lease, attempted to seize valuable property rights, and meddled with the business’ economic viability.

The lawsuit came as a result of recent legal action by Property Reserve and the Souvenir Stop, including the club in an amended lawsuit originally filed against the city. That lawsuit claimed the Board of Adjustment incorrectly granted the saloon a sexually-oriented business license.

According to court documents, Property Reserve and the Souvenir Stop claimed that church-owned properties would be adversely affected by the “nuisance” club, a former blues club that was revamped in December into a strip club.

The two also claimed the board “improperly concluded” that the bar is not located within certain distance from a school, parks, a landmark and a gateway corridor. City ordinances forbid sexually-oriented businesses from operating within a specified distance from these protected land uses.

Darger, an attorney for the club, said the legal issue transcends his saloon, and gets to the heart of the future of downtown and who will control it.

“They have attempted to break up my relationship with my partners on the building, and they’re essentially using the power of the city RDA money to force my partners into getting rid of me and the Dead Goat,” he said. “I feel it’s the church that’s trying to run down my property rights. The church is the nuisance, in my opinion.”

A phone call seeking comment to Alan Sullivan, the attorney for Property Reserve and the Souvenir Stop, was not immediately returned Saturday.

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Associated Press, USA
Feb. 28, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday February 29, 2004.
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