Some Bountiful City residents don't want a group home for the handicapped in their neighborhood. But a tie-breaking vote cast by the city's mayor during a City Council meeting last week will allow a contractor to go ahead with the project.
Mayor Dean Stahle broke a 2-2 tie after council members Harold Shafter and Robert Gramoll opposed changing the ordinance because a similar facility has already been built in the area.Art Woolston, president of Park Haven Corp., which is building the home at 573 Medical Drive, said the 3,600 square-foot building will cost between $250,000 and $300,000. Construction is expected to begin in the next 30 days and be completed by February.
Several residents opposed the plan, saying it would drop property values and that patients would be a threat to neighbors in the Lakeview Hospital area.
Helen Marceli, who lives at 560 E. First South, said the home will abut her property. She has requested that a 6-foot fence be constructed between her house and the group home. She said the group home will be the third built in the area.
"They could put three more up here with the new ordinance. We have lived here 33 years and have put a lot of money into this house and will never get it back," Marceli said.
Nanette Eccles, program specialist for the state Division of Services to the Handicapped, said studies throughout the nation show that property values are not affected by group homes for the handicapped.
But Marceli was not convinced. "Why the concentration here? I think it is a little too much for this area. Why are we discriminated against?"
Eight women would live in the home and go to sheltered workshops or day activity centers in Davis County. The women, who will be transferred from the Utah State Training School in American Fork, are seriously retarded and suffer from medical problems. The problems are a primary reason a site near Lakeview Hospital was selected, Eccles said.
"These are just outsiders putting in a money-making thing, but we have lived here a long time. It is a shame they don't respect the residential area," Marceli said.
The group home will be managed by Danville Handicapped Services Corp., which is also owned by Woolston. Woolston said most residents' concerns fade once the home opens its doors.
"It (residents' opposition) is a result of a lack of exposure to handicapped people. It is simply a matter of getting acquainted. Once they do that we never have any problems," Eccles said. "We always have opposition, but once they see the folks leave every day and find they are hardly around, it is no different than having any other large family in the neighborhood."