The city of Riverton has modified its disorderly property ordinance in order to ease concerns about multi-unit housing in town.
The new ordinance says a property is disorderly if at least two police calls result in citations there in a 30-day period.
Previously, there had to be at least 10 citations in a 30-day period for a property to be considered disorderly – or two calls to one apartment.
The ordinance can be applied at businesses now, too.
Owners and managers with disorderly properties are required to “initiate and implement reasonable actions against the tenant, occupant, patron or guest to abate the activities,” or face a fine of up to $750, according to the new ordinance.
“The intent is to encourage the property owners to take action to remedy the situation before we get to the fine,” city administrator Tony Tolstedt said. “That’s actually built in there. (If) they begin proceedings to address the item, then there is no ticket. …
“If they choose not to address it (in) short order, then there is that fallback – there are those teeth.”
‘Not in my backyard’
City council members said the new ordinance should address concerns that have arisen about a recent zoning change allowing multi-unit housing to be built across the street from Riverton High School.
“Do we really want those problems over there?” Riverton resident Kristine Anderson asked, referring to a local apartment complex that accumulates hundreds of police calls each year. “I know we need stuff like this in town, but I don’t think that’s a good place for it. … There are other places in this town that you could put something like that.”
Councilman Mike Bailey said Riverton needs to “get beyond this ‘not in my backyard’ kind of attitude” about apartment complexes.
“We need to think of it as entry-level housing as opposed to high-density housing,” he said. “Because everybody, when they start out, cannot move into a $300,000 house on the golf course. They have to start somewhere.”
It’s “naïve” to think Riverton doesn’t need multi-unit housing, Bailey continued, citing an earlier report from realtor Bethany Baldes that showed only 23 houses were available on the local market that week.
“We have all these amazing economic development things that we’ve accomplished, (with) additional businesses coming to town and existing businesses expanding and increasing their employee counts – but we have to have a place for these guys to live,” Bailey said.
“I’m all for making our disorderly house the toughest ordinance in the state … if that’s what it takes.”
Residents opposing the zone change by RHS have also talked about the traffic in the area, which is likely to increase if more housing goes in, causing even more congestion right next to the hospital and ambulance barn.
Councilwoman Kristy Salisbury pointed out that the city could require development agreements in higher-density residential zones to ensure builders mitigate the impacts of their construction projects on the local community.
Mayor Richard Gard suggested requiring onsite managers for all multi-unit housing projects, for example, and Tolstedt said the city could create a special license for multi-unit properties.
The council asked city staff to prepare a review of municipal zoning requirements for a future meeting.
Tolstedt has also scheduled a meeting with local landowners to discuss the changes to the city’s disorderly property ordinance.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in the council chambers at Riverton City Hall, 816 N. Federal Blvd.