The placement of a group home for troubled youths in an east Taylorsville neighborhood apparently will require a conditional-use permit, the home's sponsor conceded Friday.
However, Bob Huber, president of Intermountain Youth Care, said his organization was not aware of the requirement until after it began preparing the site at 1175 W. 5000 South."We were not trying to sneak into the neighborhood," Huber said. "When we picked the location, we were under the impression that because it was zoned commercial, a conditional-use permit was not required."
Intermountain Youth Care is a private organization that operates group homes under contract with various state agencies. The 5000 South house would house up to 10 youths ages 16 to 17 who have a history of involvement in the juvenile court system, Huber said.
The proposed group home has provoked a storm of protests from area residents who said their neighborhood is not suitable for the facility and that they should have been notified in advance. They took their complaints to the Salt Lake County Commission, which ordered a review of the project.
Huber said he was informed Thursday by Commissioner Brent Overson's office that a 1992 ordinance mandates that most types of group homes have conditional-use permits, which require public hearings. Prior to the enactment of that ordinance, group homes were permitted uses in commercial zones and didn't require hearings.
According to Huber, a title company's report to IYC and all other information previously available to him indicated that a group home was a permitted use at the 5000 South location.
And while IYC was operating under the impression that no public hearing would be required, Huber said the organization intended to voluntarily notify neighbors.
Also, Huber said he thought almost everybody in the neighborhood was already aware of the group home proposal because the owner of the property is related to most of the neighbors.
Despite the new information, Huber said IYC may not abandon the site. "We will be looking at all our options, but if a conditional-use permit is required wherever we go, we may as well pursue this one and see what happens. We believe it's an ideal location."
As for the public opposition, Huber said, "I know a lot of people are upset, but they will be upset just about anywhere we go. All we can do is try to show them that this would be an asset to the community and try to enlist their support."