Riverton City Council approves church rezone on first reading but requests information about other options

    The Riverton City Council approved a rezone request for the Presbyterian Church property on North Broadway on first reading this week, but they also directed staff to look into “other possibilities” that could accommodate a new behavioral health facility on the lot.

    The rezone ordinance must be approved during three separate council meetings in order to take effect.

    When it comes up on second reading, council members said they would like to hear about other options for the property – for example, rather than rezoning the lot from residential to commercial-office, the city could make it a Planned Urban Development zone, which allows the council to “depict directly the rules and regulations” for the area, community development director Michael Miller said.  


    Public hearing

    The council had just heard public testimony from several residents who live near the Presbyterian Church and opposed the rezone request, though they noted that they support the mission of Path Wellness Solutions – the organization looking to buy the property in order to expand from its current location on North Eighth Street.

    “It’s not that we object to this business,” resident Tresa King said. “They would probably be wonderful neighbors. I don’t think we can dispute that. (But) what happens when you change the zoning is you change what can come in and what is possible, and that’s where our concerns lie.”

    Instead of zoning the property commercial-office, King suggested the city look at issuing a variance or a conditional use permit for Path Wellness on the lot.

    “That might allow the sale to go through and benefit our church … and it would benefit the business coming in, but it would not affect a permanent change (with) long-lasting effects for those of us who live there,” King said. “If there’s a way to work this out (so) we don’t have to have a zoning change, that would be a good balance.”


    ‘On the same page’

    Path Wellness owner and CEO Quinn Peterson said he and King were “on the same page.”

    “We’re flexible, (and) we are committed to being good neighbors,” he said. “We will work with the city and the community to find an innovative … solution that lets us use the property.”

    He added that he is open to hearing about alternative locations Path Wellness could consider purchasing in Riverton, potentially with support from the city.


    ‘A misconception’

    When the city sent letters to nearby property owners informing them about the rezone request, Miller said three of the 13 residents notified responded with disapproval.

    He said he also received 57 letters from other residents in the subdivision opposing the rezone.

    Peterson guessed that some of that opposition was due to a “misconception” about the services Path Wellness offers.


    “It’s not inpatient” he said. “No one is sleeping there. We’re not bringing in troubled youth from other communities to stay here in this facility.”

    Instead, he said, Path Wellness employs counselors and therapists who offer “guidance, leadership, an ear to listen (and) a shoulder to cry on.”

    “We’re hoping (to help) with the mental health crisis here in Riverton,” Peterson said.

    The facility won’t be open in the evenings, overnight, or on the weekends, Path Wellness clinician and lifelong resident Sarah Hughes explained, inviting anyone with questions about the business to contact her for more information.

    “Our community … is in desperate need of that mental wellness and support,” Hughes said. “This opportunity is going to open up a lot of opportunities for our community to receive the supports that they need and maybe help to break some of that stigma on the mental health crisis in our nation.”

    For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.


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