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Front Page » March 15, 2005 » Local News » Price city addresses legal issues on land at Notre Dame site
Published 3,860 days ago

Price city addresses legal issues on land at Notre Dame site

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Sun Advocate reporter

Notre Dame School was built in the late 1920s on 600 East, between 200 and 300 North. Though the building is still used for teaching, the parochial school closed some years ago. The land was quitclaim deeded to the Catholic Church by Price City in 1927 and again in 1984. The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City has approached the city to determine the city's position on the possible sale of the land to Pinnacle Canyon Academy. A provision in the deed requires that the land be used for religious or education purposes, and Price City maintains that as long as that provision remains with future deeds and is adhered to by its owners, the city has no claim to the property.

At a Price council meeting on March 9, officials discussed issues surrounding the city's legal interests in the land where Notre Dame School stands.

Councilmember Richard Tatton brought the issue before the council at the regularly scheduled public meeting.

"I was blind-sided by a citizens' group over the involvement of Price city with the charter school, Pinnacle Canyon, and the Catholic Church," explained Tatton. "The claim was that Price city, via the mayor, had told Monsignor Fitzgerald that the city would agree to sell its property interests in the 10 acres where Notre Dame School is located."

In 1927, the city quitclaimed the ground to the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake. A reservation in the deed stipulated that the land be used for educational purposes.

In 1984, the Catholic Church approached the city about amending the deed to allow religious activities. The property was quitclaim deeded a second time, stipulating the land be used for religious or educational purposes.

Mayor Joe Piccolo explained that local leaders in the Catholic Church approached the city about selling the property.

"At the time they approached us, they were concerned that the city would have to give their blessing in order to sell," explained Piccolo.

After discussion regarding the quitclaim deed, Price City Attorney Nick Sampinos concluded: "The Catholic Church owns the property. They don't need the city's permission to sell it. They're merely concerned whether the city has any concerns with respect to the continued use of that property for educational or religious purposes."

Sampinos explained that he currently has a letter verifying the continued use by the church. Nevertheless, an additional letter from the diocese would be beneficial to the church and the city.

He further explained that if the church were to sell the property, the deed transferring ownership would need to carry the reservation regulating its use.

In a later interview, Monsignor J. Terrance Fitzgerald, of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, explained that discussion of the sale was preliminary. He further explained that if the sale goes through, the local parish hopes to use the revenue generated to build a building with meeting rooms and rooms for parish education.

Recognizing that there are bigger issues surrounding the potential sale of Notre Dame School and the relocation of Pinnacle Academy, the mayor said, "There's a potential for the community to be torn in half at the expense of the mayor and the council. I believe there is that potential because of part performances by certain players that are involved in this situation."

The discussion was for informational purposes among councilmembers and the city council made no motion concerning the matter.

Later in the council meeting, the council heard comments from Robert Etzel. The mayor explained the position of the city, that the ground where the school stands belongs to the Catholic Church.

Etzel asked whether the city would hold a public hearing on the transfer of the property, to which the mayor responded that a public hearing would be unnecessary, since the city doesn't own the land.

When Etzel asked if the school would have to go before the planning and zoning board, the mayor responded that rezoning would be unnecessary, but that they would have to go before the board for planning to verify that plans and that the building and any renovations met building code.

In unrelated matters, the council heard the report of a committee appointed to investigate usage of the Desert Wave Pool by organizations using it for classes and other activities. The committee presented a rough draft proposal for changes in the fee structure.

The committee suggested that the city impose a fee for groups and individuals using extra equipment, such as kayaks and scuba gear, and charge for reservation of the classroom at the pool and use of the pool later than normally scheduled hours.

The committee plans to make a final recommendation to the council at a council meeting on March 23.

The council also repealed the portion of business license code pertaining to door-to-door solicitors. The law had prohibited certain activities by solicitors, and the city agreed to change the law after Kirby, a business which sells vacuum cleaners door-to-door, filed a lawsuit against the city.

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