A house that has been under construction for 10 years in a posh Bountiful neighborhood has become a quintessential conflict of personal rights.
The unfinished house, surrounded by weeds, has been a one-man project of Carl C. Richardson in Granada Hills, a neighborhood on Bountiful's east bench. Neighbors showed up at the Bountiful City Council meeting this week asking the council to force Richardson to clean up the lot and finish building the home. They presented a petition with 75 signatures requesting the city pass an ordinance to deal with such issues.The building is an eyesore that is causing property values to drop and harboring rodents, they said. Richardson's home sits on a wooded lot at 1375 E. Granada with the brick still unlaid and a tile roof in disarray, while well-kept lawns and sprawling homes stand nearby.
"You need to draw up some type of ordinance so other people don't have to go through this," resident Craig Johnson told the council. Such an ordinance would also affect another home that locals have dubbed "Noah's Ark" at 800 S. Davis Blvd. Mayor Dean S. Stahle told residents that while the city could enforce its weed ordinance at the sites, the city has little authority to govern what someone does on his own property. He suggested that the residents pursue civil court action to enforce the area's restrictive covenants.
"Somebody can paint their home purple and we can't do anything about it," Councilman Robert Gramoll said.
Since the meeting, City Attorney Layne B. Forbes has been searching for ordinances in other cities that require homes to be finished in a certain amount of time. So far he hasn't found anything and believes he won't because all such ordinances are likely unconstitutional.
Forbes said that the city will inspect the home to see if it poses a danger to children in the area. Under the city's dangerous building ordinance officials could require Richardson to board up entrances and correct any unstable construction, but that won't help the home's appearance.
Resident Janice Howick told the council that Richardson's exercise of personal freedom has infringed on her rights as a property owner.
Richardson said he doesn't believe that he has stepped on anybody's rights. He also believes his home construction is no greater eyesore than many places throughout Bountiful.
"I don't see their point," said Richardson. "I think they should be more patient . . . I am willing to comply to whatever the city says."
City Manager Tom Hardy said Richardson's building permit has been out of force since 1982 and he will have to pay up to $800 to have it renewed. Richardson said he had never understood until this week that the permit was out of force.