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South Valley Riverton Journal

Councilmembers ‘leery’ of any housing density increase

Apr 09, 2024 02:00PM ● By Travis Barton

Duplexes (pictured here is a duplex example) were discussed as possible housing options in single family zones by the Riverton City Council. Ivory Homes has some built in the northwestern portion of the city on Harvest Gold Way. (Sightline Institute)

As housing continues to be a topic of discussion in the Salt Lake Valley, the Riverton City Council is also weighing its housing options. 

In a late February council meeting, elected officials considered what type of density is allowed in single family zones with many being wary at opening any door to further density. 

Currently, duplexes and triplexes are only allowed in multifamily zones while accessory dwelling units are allowed in single family zones but they must be owner occupied and don’t count as a unit of density, according to city staff. 

But councilmembers have received inquiries about the city allowing duplexes. 

Councilmember Andy Pierucci said it could be viable option in some parts of the city, but they would need to be careful. 

“Consistency is important but I can also see how a gap in our (housing) options that could make this a viable option to bring down the cost of housing in our communities by allowing another form of housing that’s, frankly, less dense than many of the other densities we allow as a city,” he said. 

Several councilmembers, including Pierucci, noted the council has approved a wide variety of housing options for the city. 

Councilmember Spencer Haymond said he was willing to discuss the duplex idea, but was “quite leery at opening at opening up too much area to duplex style stuff.” 

He felt duplexes can often become rundown, but added if they could be high quality products then it’s a worthwhile discussion.

For Councilmember Troy McDougal, it was almost a nonstarter. 

“If I’m representing my citizens I would be adamantly against this because many, many residents have expressed a concern with high density.” 

Solutions for traffic congestion are needed first and foremost. 

“I’m very leery of approving any type of higher density housing when we have a lot of density housing still to be built, and we’re not handling the traffic flow well at all,” he said, adding the impact on schools and their obligation to the current residents need to be considered. 

“Until we can resolve these other concerns, I don’t want to add more congestion and more problem to an existing problem,” McDougal said. 

Pierucci was willing to explore the possibility of duplexes since they offer a lower density than townhomes or apartments, but would need to see ways of adjusting density approvals and traffic reduction. All “if it could open an opportunity for younger families to have a first-time home” in the city not at the higher levels of density they currently have, he said. 

Haymond liked the idea of making housing more affordable, but felt the current marketplace doesn’t allow for affordable homes with the cost of materials being so high.

“I love the idea of trying to help affordable housing but I continue to say that’s a federal monetary issue that needs to be addressed and somebody needs to start that discussion on a bigger platform,” he said. 

No decisions were made, but the council agreed to discuss it further in a later council meeting. λ