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BUILDER WANTS TO HAMMER HOME POINT FOR ALUMINUM

When contractor J. Bradley Simon appears before the Riverton Board of Adjustments, he plans to use a visual aid: He'll take a piece of aluminum siding and a piece of stucco and smash them both with a hammer.

The results, he hopes, will prove his point about the durability of aluminum siding compared with stucco.The demonstration will be part of his appeal to the Riverton Board of Adjustments of a controversial building ordinance recently passed that requires brick, stone, tile or stucco on 50 percent of the main floor of new homes.

The intent of the ordinance, according to City Council members, is to improve the diversity and quality of new homes in Riverton. City officials have expressed a belief that requiring a minimum amount of brick etc. will improve the looks of the city in the future.

But Simon contends that while stucco is trendy now, it can stain with age and lacks the durability of aluminum and other materials.

A week ago, the City Council amended the so-called masonry ordinance to allow builders to appeal their materials to the Board of Adjustments. Simon is hopeful the board will be more open-minded about accepting aluminum.

Simon, vice president of Woodside Homes Corp., has attempted to meet privately with the council to persuade them to rescind the masonry ordinance. But he contends City Council members are "dragging their feet" because they are angry about a lawsuit filed by the Home Builders Association of Great Salt Lake against them.

He has not joined the lawsuit filed by the HBA against Riverton's ordinance, but he does have his own attorney "to help with the situation."

While the City Council has indicated it will meet with builders to possibly reach a compromise, Simon says he is losing thousands of dollars every day as potential buyers walk away because they can't afford the additional cost of the 50 percent brick requirement.

So far, four of his buyers have backed out of purchasing Woodside homes because of the brick requirement.

The homes are selling at between $108,000 to $200,000. Adding brick raises the cost of a home about $3,000 to $4,000. That means an increase of monthly mortgage payment of $30 to $40 a month. Many buyers have to requalify for their home loans and pay for another appraisal because of the increase.

"It's not just the increase in mortgage that creates a problem," said Simon. "The buyers mistrust what kind of changes the city may impose down the line that would pose other obstacles."

Riverton has also increased the minimum lot size of most properties to one-third acre. "There just aren't many places in the Salt Lake Valley to build affordable homes," he said.