Developers Sue Over Building Requirements

Developers Sue Over Building Requirements

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SYRACUSE, Utah (AP) -- A group of developers has filed suit against the city, claiming its building requirements for new homes are unconstitutional.

City leaders maintain they simply want a balanced community.

The ordinance requires 50 percent of the front and side walls of all new homes be brick, stone or natural wood. It also requires new homes to have a two-car garage of at least 400 square feet.

Northern Wasatch Homebuilders Association, Benchmark Real Estate Company and Mark Higley Construction filed the complaint against the city in 2nd District Court, but has not yet served the defendants.

Stephen Noel, an attorney for the home builders, said they will wait to see how talks go between the city and the home builders.

The suit, which also names Mayor Fred Panucci and the City Council members, claims the ordinance infringes on property rights.

The builders maintain the restrictions will increase the cost of constructing homes by 2 to 6 percent.

The suit says, "The city has no legitimate interest enforcing these restrictions upon property developers, home builders and owners of property within the city."

"The home builders are very convinced this (the ordinance) goes over the line of what the city can do," said M. Darin Hammond, one of the attorneys for the builders.

Councilman Lurlen Knight said, "Some cities have an overabundance of starter homes. Starter homes cost the city more money in services than what they receive. We're required by law to have so many starter homes, and we far exceed that. We have about 46 percent starter homes."

In addition, the city wants to make sure the builders will build a product that will "stand the test of time and not depreciate rapidly," Knight said.

The ordinance was approved May 27, but the council recently agreed to stop the ordinance from becoming effective and scheduled a public hearing July 22 to discuss the issue.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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