A child sex-abuse treatment center has won a zoning victory from the Salt Lake Council, despite opposition from neighborhood groups.
The council amended the city's ordinance on residential facilities for the handicapped so the County Human Services Division can apply for a conditional-use permit for the first Children's Justice Center.The center program was created by the Legislature this year.
Center administrators had been considering a home offered by Intermountain Health Care on the city's east side, but neighborhood parking and traffic concerns prompted a further search.
The Salt Lake Association of Community Councils sees the council's decision as "fast-tracking of this action over vital land-use petitions.
"The City Council was pretty upset when I pointed out that they heard land-use petitions, submitted to them six years ago, on the same night they heard this petition, submitted six weeks ago," said SLACC Land Use Advisory Board Chairman Ron Love.
Love also argued that council members should have amended the group-home ordinance, which he said is flawed and vague, rather than the handicapped-facilities ordinance.
"Our lawyer advised us that the only way to go was to petition the handicapped-residence ordinance because it was the only way we could qualify for placement in the city," countered Grethe Peterson, chairwoman of the Children's Justice Center advisory board.
The Children's Justice Center is a new program for the state, bringing together the county attorney's office, the Salt Lake Police Department and Human Services to streamline child sexual-abuse procedures.
"The Children's Justice Center will make it so that children will not have to face multiple interviews after they have gone through a traumatic event," Peterson said. "The big difference is in the way a child would respond to a police investigation in a hectic setting rather than in a group home."