On Oct. 22, the Moab City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that allows commercial property owners to build or convert some ground-level portions of their buildings into accessory housing units for their workers.
Prior to the new ordinance, residential units, including employee housing, were allowed in commercial zones, but only on upper floors. City code prohibited the construction of all residential dwellings on the ground floor in C-3 and C-4 commercial zones.
Under the change to the city’s municipal code, businesses in C-3 and C-4 commercial zones can now set aside up to 20 percent of a building – or two units per 10,000 square feet – for employee housing. The housing units can also be located on properties that are directly adjacent to a main building. However, ground-floor units can only be used for employee housing, cannot exceed 1,000 square feet and they cannot be located at the front ground-floor levels of commercial properties.
Employee housing units that are built on upper levels of the buildings are not subject to the 1,000 square-foot size restriction, but they cannot be located in the front of the building. Other residential units are also allowed on upper floors of commercial buildings in those zones.
According to a memo from Moab City Planner Jeff Reinhart, the change will help address complaints that local worker housing is not available.
“It is anticipated that business owners who are subjected to large turnover rates from year to year will be able to rehire the same employees and not have to repeat training every season,” the memo says.
Commercial property owners who take advantage of the new ordinance will be able to set rental rates at “appropriate” amounts. Lease terms must run for at least 31 days.