The Layton City policy of requiring department heads to live in the city may be a hardship on some recently hired employees, but the city's mayor and council see no need to alter the rule.

The city has been searching for a new parks and recreation department head in the wake of the October resignation of Richard Hunt.City manager Bruce Barton, reporting on the progress of the search, recently told the council that the city's requirement that department heads live in Layton is hampering the search.

And, he said, it is working a hardship on at least one current employee, fire chief Allan Peek.

Peek has been unable to sell his home in Roy, about eight miles north of Layton, since he took the chief's job more than a year ago.

Peek told the council that living out of the city doesn't hamper his ability to respond to an emergency.

"I can make it to the hospital from Roy as fast as fire trucks in Layton can make it," Peek said.

Barton asked if the council might be willing to dump the policy to make it easier on current employees and make the search for a new parks and recreation department head easier.

Some potential candidates that might live in neighboring cities may be interested in the job, he indicated, but won't apply because they don't want to have to sell their homes and move to Layton.

There could be some merit to requiring the police or fire chief to live in the city, Barton said, because they deal with emergency situations.

But other department heads don't deal in such critical circumstances, he said.

Layton now requires all department heads to move into the city within a year of being hired. And the city's police officers are required to live within a 10-mile radius of City Hall.

Because he has been unable to sell his Roy home, the city has granted Peek an extension, a policy Mayor James Layton said he prefers over scrapping the residency requirement.

Requiring department heads to live in the city keeps them in touch with the community, the mayor and council agreed.

But one council member, Jerry Stevenson, said the requirement may be too confining. "It makes it very difficult to leave your work," Stevenson said.

City attorney Mark Arnold said the residency requirement is legal under state statute.