The LDS Church denies it controls the Salt Lake City Council.
Attorneys for the Crazy Goat Saloon — formerly the Dead Goat — have alleged the church influenced council members and city employees to try to put the downtown strip club out of business by approving a moratorium on downtown strip clubs.
This week, attorneys for the church’s Property Reserve Inc. rejected that argument and others made by the Crazy Goat in its lawsuit against the church and city.
Church attorneys “deny that the ‘Mormon Church’ controls or unduly influences employees and members of the council of Salt Lake City.”
Council members did approve a moratorium. Daniel Darger, co-owner of the Crazy Goat and an attorney, says the city wanted to apply it to his club. But the ban did not stop Darger from adding semi-nude strippers to his downtown nightclub; city officials decided the moratorium could not apply retroactively.
Six of seven council members are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time, at least one denied he voted for the moratorium because of his membership. In fact, some said they didn’t know strip clubs were allowed downtown. The city eventually made the moratorium permanent.
After Darger added strippers, the church sued Salt Lake City for issuing him a sexually oriented business (SOB) license.
The church plans a major renovation of retail property near the Crazy Goat and and says the strip club is a blight on the neighborhood.
Darger then sued the church and city. Third District Judge Denise Lindberg is assigned the case.
Darger is seeking damages, but the church says any economic harm has been caused by Darger or somebody else.
The city also is investigating the church’s claim that Darger’s SOB license violates a city ordinance that says SOBs cannot open within 1,000 feet of a place of worship. The LDS Church says the city overlooked the Main Street Coffee House when it issued Darger a license. The coffee shop is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and provides Sunday church services. The city must decide if the coffeehouse is a church.
The city eventually may change the definition of “place of worship” to exclude churches that sell goods not related to church services. The change could affect the coffeehouse.
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