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The City Journals

For Riverton Residents There is No Escaping Landscaping

Oct 07, 2015 11:51AM ● By Bryan Scott

By Briana Kelley

South Valley - Changes to Riverton’s property maintenance ordinance passed unanimously at the city council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The amendment includes stronger language and stricter enforcement to encourage residents to keep their yards tidy. 

The amendment includes stricter language similar to Herriman’s existing ordinance. It now states that landscaping “shall be maintained in good condition so as to present a healthy, neat, and orderly appearance at all times...mowed, groomed, trimmed, pruned and watered...and not detract from the appearance of the immediate neighborhood. Landscaping shall be kept virtually free of insects and disease, and shall be kept free from weeds and other volunteer plants.”

Prior to its passage, Council members Paul Wayman and Tricia Tingey voiced concerns about the stricter language and the feasibility of enforcement. “I’m really concerned that if we use this standard overall, it will be impossible to enforce -- I’m concerned that it’s not equitable and that it’s forcing people to do things,” Wayman said.

In response to Wayman’s concerns, City Attorney Ryan Carter explained that the passage of the bill would not necessarily increase prosecution of violations. 

“The prosecutor’s office will not go after every single weed in Riverton City,” Carter said. Instead, the city will look at the worst cases, those who are in obvious, egregious violation of the ordinance, and operate from that. 

“We’re not driving around looking for people to tag. This is a complaint-driven process,” Mayor Bill Applegarth added.

Despite the changes, the council believes there is still enough flexibility for those unable to care for their yard due to extenuating circumstances. “The key phrase in the new language is that it says ‘not detract from the immediate neighborhood.’ I think that gives it a level of discretion, when issuing a citation and on the enforcement, that we need to address that really small percentage that cannot take care of their yard,” Council member Trent Staggs said.

A few residents attended to show support for its passage. “I have a neighborhood where lots of houses are in violation of the current ordinance,” Riverton resident Karol Haney said. “I have been told by several enforcement officers in various cities that when a neighborhood becomes rundown it becomes a target for these kinds of activities and I feel like we are experiencing that in our neighborhood. This is about the person that is able-bodied and could get out there and maintain their property. That’s why I think we need to change this. That’s what this is about.”

Formal discussions to adopt changes began on June 2. The ordinance went into effect Tuesday, Aug. 18 when the council voted its passage.