ALPINE A new city ordinance will require that all new swimming pools being built in the city must include a fence-like barrier as a safety precaution.
The decision by the Alpine City Council comes just a year after a vote for a strikingly similar ordinance was voted down 3-2.
"A year ago we looked at the possibility of adopting an ordinance that would require a barrier or a fence around swimming pools, and government invasion upon personal choice was the main reason that measure failed," said Alpine Mayor Hunt Willoughby.
The city already had an ordinance that pools had to have covers to keep children safe from the risk of drowning.
During the discussion in this week's council meeting, the question of who would be affected by the new ordinance became the focus of the debate.
"My question would be, are we asking current swimming pool owners to comply with this?" said council member Thomas Whitchurch. "I think this is a great ordinance, and I think we should adopt it as long as it goes for new construction and not existing pools within the city."
Council member Jim Tracy said that he thought that the majority of pool owners already have fences, but with the numerous drownings in Utah every year, he thinks they should be required in all of them.
But Whitchurch still thought it was overbearing to force existing owners to comply with a new ordinance.
"I have a problem with us going back to people who have already made a decision based on prior code that the city required them to put on a cover, and now we are telling them that the money they spent on a cover was for naught," he said.
As the discussion escalated, David Church, Alpine city attorney, agreed that it would be hard to enact a building ordinance that was retroactive.
The council decided to craft the new ordinance to affect anyone building a new pool in the city. After more research, the council may revisit the issue to consider whether it should be extended to current pool owners. City officials say that since the year 2000, 106 new pools have been constructed in the city, all of which are required to have covers, but they are unsure how many have fences as well.
For Robin Towle, an Alpine Resident who was one of several in attendance to hear the decision, the council's decision was satisfactory, but she still hopes to see more protection for children in the future."It was a great victory and a step in the right direction but I am going to continue to try and advocate that all pools have fences around them," she said. "It is easy for people to be complacent with this issue, so I hope that this is just the first step."
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