The Moab City Council on July 11 unanimously approved rezoning a 5-acre parcel on Williams Way from the R-2 single- and two-family residential zone to the R-4 manufactured housing zone. The rezone marks an early step in the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah’s (HASU) plan to build senior affordable housing adjacent to the hospital campus. The council approved the rezone despite neighbor concerns about the possibility of increased traffic on Park Drive.
The housing development, a joint effort between HASU and the Canyonlands Health Care Special Service District (CHCSSD), would be designed for seniors making 50 percent or less of the average median income in Grand County, which was $41,312 in 2015, the most recent data available from the U.S. Census Bureau. HASU has emphasized that although the R-4 zone is called a manufactured housing zone in city code, the organization has asked for the zone change to make it possible to develop high-density housing for seniors, not manufactured housing.
Several neighbors voiced concerns about the possibility that Park Drive, which currently is a dead-end street, would become a through street.
“It looks like from the drawings ... that the road will end up connecting Park Drive to 500 West and I think that will drastically change the traffic patterns in our neighborhood,” Christy Calvin told city council members. “I think it will become a really convenient shortcut, and that’s a high volume of traffic for a small residential neighborhood.”
Calvin said she supports increasing density for purposes of affordable senior housing, but asked whether a conditional use permit might allow more control over the design process than a full rezone.
“It will be a shortcut,” resident Shari Beck said of the potential change to Park Drive. “If there is a way to cut through quicker and faster, you’re going to take it, and what’s that going to do to those homes? There’s kids there. There’s a daycare there.”
Wendy Young, another neighbor, said that when the area between the two sections of Park Drive was closed to foot traffic several years ago, crime, including vandalism and harassment, decreased significantly and she is concerned what will happen when the area is opened to vehicular traffic.
“I think we need way more low-income housing,” Calvin said. “I just want to make sure that it’s quality housing and it doesn’t affect the values of our neighborhood.”
Council member Kalen Jones suggested that narrower streets may be the answer to traffic concerns.
“We [need to] look at ways to allow flexibility for narrower streets and traffic calming to address these concerns and also possibly have parking restrictions so people aren’t locked out of their on-street parking if they need it,” Jones said. “Right now we have minimum street standards which do support possibly higher level of speed than may be appropriate in that neighborhood. So I’d like to encourage us to address [those standards] before the [HASU] development actually gets to the design application stage so that they’re designing to a standard that facilitates those considerations.”
Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison said there might be a way to design the development without a thoroughfare and Moab City Manager David Everitt reminded the council that the decision at hand was not the design of the site plan, but only whether a rezone was appropriate in that area.
Kirstin Peterson, chairwoman of the CHCSSD board, said if Park Drive becomes a through street, CHCSSD and HASU would hope to limit traffic for the sake of neighborhood residents and seniors living in the apartments.
“Everything that’s on the planning documents, not necessarily just for this property but for the city, shows that street connecting through. ... If we left the zone as it is and developed that property, my impression was that the city was going to want that connectivity,” Peterson said. “I don’t think it needs at all to be a big thoroughfare. Basically, any development there needs an ingress and an egress. ... We would love to work with the city and the neighborhood to create something that accesses the development but doesn’t create a major thoroughfare for non-residents.”