Use of an old Moab church building for a stunt men's museum and hall of fame is proper according to city zoning for that site, 7th District Court Judge Boyd Bunnell has ruled.
However, Bunnell ruled that outdoor demonstrations of stunts are a nuisance to neighbors and must cease.Bunnell issued the ruling in a suit filed against the city by residents disgruntled over use of the old church for the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame.
Bunnell issued the ruling after taking the matter under advisement following a March 10 trial. Moab City received the court's opinion March 24.
The suit was brought against the city last summer by Marvin E. Clever, his wife Gertrude B. Clever, and neighbor Helen Beeson. Their attorney, Paul W. Mortensen, asked the court to prohibit use of the building as a public facility because the use was in violation of code and because the outdoor activities were a nuisance to neighbors.
The city bought and remodeled the old LDS church last winter specifically to accommodate the stunt men's museum and a gift shop operated by museum founder John Hagner.
Plans were to eventually build a stage set in the downtown area where students trained by Hagner could demonstrate stunts and other skills. Meanwhile, he began building a set on the museum grounds.
Clever had complained to the mayor and City Council last April that use of the building as a museum and public facility violated the zoning code. He also argued that a Western movie set Hagner was constructing outside violated a 15-foot setback requirement in the code.
The code also requires use of properties in the C-5 zone (commercial establishments in residential surroundings) to be in harmony with surroundings. Residences are located behind the corner church and to one side.
City attorney Bill Benge and the city building inspector/zoning administrator agreed that Clever had legitimate complaints, and construction of the Western stage was halted last May.
The City Council and hall of fame board of directors responded by proposing a change in the zoning to allow public facilities in the C-5 zone. The proposal was adopted last August by council on advice of the city Planning and Zoning Commission, "to make this zone more in keeping with the way the zone is actually being used and should be used."
Three days before the trial, zoning administrator Wesley "Corky" Brewer notified the mayor that the Stuntmen's Hall of Fame was in compliance with C-5 zoning, as amended.
The judge concluded that uses on the property were reasonable "except when they put on outside demonstrations of stunt-man activities where the public is invited to attend and witness . . . skills and activities of the stunt men."