County attempts to regulate group homes
Salt Lake County officials are currently considering changes to an ordinance covering group homes in the unincorporated county.
The proposed changes came about after now-former County Councilmember Jani Iwamoto was contacted by Millcreek residents about problems with possible unlicensed group homes operating in the area.
Concerns included such homes operating without a license, the number of people living there, parking and increased crime in the area.
Currently, the ordinance allows group homes as a permitted use in single-family neighborhoods in unincorporated Salt Lake County so long as the home meets state licensing standards and local business codes and does not provide outpatient treatment services.
Many of the conditions governing such homes, called “residential facilities for persons with disabilities” under the ordinance, are determined by federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. The homes themselves are licensed by the state.
The proposed changes to the ordinance include a new chapter with provisions for ensuring state licenses are obtained, dealing with nuisance properties, parking and traffic and appeals.
It also updates the definition of family to allow up to four unrelated people to live together as a “family.” The current ordinance allows just three unrelated people.
A half-mile separation between facilities required in the current ordinance would be removed since court cases have found it illegal for such a restriction to be imposed.
“This is not earth-shattering, but it puts a procedure in place,” Iwamoto said.
“In the cases we’ve had in Millcreek, it would have stopped what happened because they were unlicensed, and everyone was waiting to see what would happen [with the proposed changes],” she said.
Currently, county planners are in the process of presenting the proposed changes to the county’s planning commission and community councils before taking it before the county council for a final vote.