Home businesses at center of zoning dispute in Summit County

Posted at 10:06 PM, Oct 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-10 00:06:16-04

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah -- The backyard of Randy Godfrey’s home in Highland Estates has been a work in progress for more than a decade.

“We have seven vehicles and probably three or four trailers,” Godfrey said. “It’s been smooth sailing. We haven’t really had any issues.”

What started as a small lawn care job in 1998 has turned his home into a thriving business, that is, until now.  Godfrey was slapped with a citation from Summit County in the spring, explaining his home run business was violating the county’s code for the area, and he needed to get out or face a daily $500 fine.

“We kind of feel like we got steamrolled and nobody said anything to us since 2004,” Godfrey said. “There was no code enforcement that said, ‘Hey, you can’t do this.’ So, we were just thinking everything is fine and dandy and the next thing you know we’re getting cited.”

According to Godfrey, the neighborhood was uninformed of new a code created in 2004 that prevented home run businesses from growing past one car and one employee, but county officials counter that was always public knowledge.

Summit County has provided an extension on the fine, as officials try to come up with a solution. However, County Council Chair Claudia McMullin said Wednesday that it is unlikely they will continue the extension past January, when it expires. While they hope to find a long-term compromise in the future, McMullin said in the interim, the companies will have to come into compliance.

“If the county decides to make some exemptions for some of these businesses, we run the risk of significantly changing the nature of our neighborhood, which really concerns me,” said Highland Estates Resident Heidi Matthews.

The longtime resident was joined by others in her concern about the businesses, which they argue have grown significantly since they first began.

“We don’t have anything against the businesses in the neighborhood,” resident Kristen Chase said. “They’ve just gotten too big, out of control. They’ve got trucks, employee cars, equipment, tractors, trailers, and this is a residential neighborhood with kids walking to school.”

But forcing them out, according to the owners, will cost them their livelihood.

“If you don’t want to be in a neighborhood where people have businesses in the homes, then move into a neighborhood that doesn’t,” said resident Joel Andrews, who runs a landscaping business from his house.

A public hearing scheduled for Oct.16 will allow residents the opportunity to address the issue with the Summit County Council. The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Sheldon Richins Building.