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Orem restricts youth homes

Ordinance addresses neighbors’ concerns

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OREM — Restrictions for youth rehabilitation homes just got a bit tighter in Orem.

The Orem City Council recently approved new wording intended to ensure the youth homes are more compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.

"We've had some experiences with such facilities, and there are certain improvements we can make to make these facilities more compatible with the neighborhoods in which they're located," said Orem City Attorney Steve Earl.

Project Ascent at 1834 S. Sandhill Road in Orem is the only such facility in Orem. The city had previously received comments from concerned neighbors who were worried about the nature of the facility.

Youth homes provide rehabilitation services for juveniles who have committed crimes. They are only allowed in Orem's highway services zone — areas of the city near freeways and somewhat away from residents.

"We received so much input when dealing with Ascent, we just wanted to make sure that in the event we got an application for another facility of this type that we had regulations in place," Earl said.

City officials had established a specific set of rules for Project Ascent. Any new rules in Orem wouldn't affect Project Ascent, which would be grandfathered into the new ordinance, Earl said.

Project Ascent is constructing a new building in Orem after selling part of its land to Orem for a Sandhill Road widening project.

The new building is on the same property, just farther away from the road.

When completed, it will be used as a home for juvenile girls instead of boys, said the company's attorney, Robert Jeffs.

No applications have been received by Orem to establish any other facility of this type, but officials wanted to ensure rules were in place should the need arise.

Some of the changes according to the ordinance:

  • Youth homes must now be at least 100 feet from any school, one-half mile from any other group home and at least 200 feet from any other dwelling if the facility accepts residents who have committed a sex-related offense.

Facilities must have a 6-foot-tall sight-obscuring fence around the rear and side yards.

Youth homes can only have 10 residents and none over the age of 20.

Youth homes cannot house any person who may be a direct threat to other individuals, a fact that must be certified through an assessment and then documentation provided to the city.

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com