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  • New ordinance governing residential facilities for elderly or disabled persons adopted by city council

By Myrna Trauntvein
Times-News Correspondent

In recent months, a few residential facilities have sought business licenses with Nephi City and the council would like to control the distances between such facilities.

“These facilities are typically residential, single-family or multi-family dwellings in which not more than eight unrelated elderly or persons with a disability reside,” said Seth Atkinson, city administrator.

These facilities also retain staff members who assist with caring for individuals in the residence.

“In reviewing how these facilities are governed in other cities, best practices generally regulate the proximity of the facilities with each other, the number of individuals in a residence and ensuring licensing with the State of Utah,” he said.

These facilities are also governed by federal housing laws, he said.

The ordinance limits the number of individuals residing at these facilities to eight, requires 3,960 feet between facilities and requires licensing through the State of Utah.

“These items will be verified with staff during the business licensing process,” said Atkinson.

Justin Seely, mayor pro tempore, said that this was the ordinance reviewed by the council in work session a week ago.

Atkinson reminded the council that the ordinance had also been prepared and reviewed by the city attorney.

Council members approved the ordinance which became law upon adoption.

Ordinance 06-18-2019-A establishes a new chapter under Title 3 of the Nephi City Code.

“The ordinance will help us govern how close group homes can be placed so there is not a clustering of them,” said Atkinson. “That will keep a residential flavor to the neighborhood where they are located for both the facility and the neighborhood.”

Ordinance No. 06-18-19 adopted Chapter 7 of Title 3 of the Nephi City Code relating to residential facilities for elderly persons and residential facilities for persons with a disability.

“Health care facilities are excluded from this ordinance,” said Kasey Wright, city attorney. “This ordinance is for group homes.”

He said that federal and state laws have attempted to address the discrimination these homes have experienced in residential settings.

“You, as a council, will make the final decision on where group homes may be located,” said Wright, “but it has to be fair and equitable.”

The ordinance defines Residential Facilities for Elderly Persons, Residential Facilities for Persons with a Disability, Transferability, Compliance with State and Federal Laws, Reasonable Accommodation, Appeal and Severability.

Under the ordinance, disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities, including a person having a record of such a problem or being regarded as having such an impairment.

The ordinance further states that a disability does not include current illegal use of, and/or resulting addiction to any federally controlled substance and disabled or disability does not mean an impairment or limitation resulting from or related to kleptomania, pyromania, or any sexually related addiction or disorder, including but not limited to, sex and pornography addictions, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, or any other sexual behavior disorder.

Elderly refers to a person who is 60 years or older, who desires or needs to live with other elderly persons in a group setting but who is capable of living independently.

“The elderly and the disabled have a right to reasonable accommodation which will afford an elderly person or one with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling,” said Wright.

Residential facility for the elderly is a single-family or multi-family dwelling in which not more than eight unrelated individuals reside in a family-type arrangement and a residential facility for persons with a disability means a single-family or multi-family dwelling in which not more than eight unrelated individuals, exclusive of staff, who have a disability reside.

A residential facility for elderly persons does not include a facility where persons being treated for alcoholism or drug abuse are placed; a facility where placement is not on a strictly voluntary basis or where placement is part of, or in lieu of, confinement, rehabilitation, or treatment in a correctional institution; a facility which is a residential facility for persons with a disability.

A residential facility for persons with a disability does not include facilities for the following: secure treatment, adult daycare, day treatment, comprehensive mental health treatment, comprehensive substance abuse treatment or domestic violence treatment, as defined in Utah Code Annotated section.

“No residential facility shall be made available to an individual whose tenancy would: 1) constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals, or 2) result in substantial physical damage to the property of others,” reads the ordinance.

If the operator of a residential facility for persons with a disability losses its certification or license from the State of Utah to operate such facility, then its authorization and business license to operate such facility in Nephi City automatically terminates.

The use permitted and an accompanying city business license are non- transferable.