This isn’t the first time the council has considered the ordinance change. In July, the amendment failed to receive the majority vote required to send the proposal to public hearing. However, during a joint workshop session between the Moab City Council and the Moab City Planning Commission, city council members asked the planning commission to revisit the ordinance.
According to Moab City Manager Donna Metzler, because the city council did not approve the ordinance the first time around, the planning commission had to start the process of considering the ordinance from the beginning.
In October, the planning commission held a second public hearing to solicit input about the proposed ordinance. During that meeting, Moab resident Diane Walker spoke against the changes.
“One problem I have with this ordinance is that there is no language to protect the homeowner’s solar access,” Walker said. “The result of this short-sightedness could put a person’s home, garden and solar energy gain potential in the shade, denying them the ability to harvest our most plentiful resource, the sun.”
Walker echoed one of the most common concerns that had been previously raised concerning to the ordinance. During the planning commission meeting, Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart demonstrated the potential impact that the new regulations would have on solar gain.
“It seems like we’ve improved things in terms of solar gain,” planning commission member Wayne Hoskisson said. Hoskisson pointed out that the issue of solar gain would involve a lot more than just buildings.
“Plants and trees are just as much of a threat,” he said.
The amendment would allow homes to be built on lots as small as 5,000 square feet, a reduction from the current minimum of 7,200 square feet. It would also make slight decreases to the required setbacks on a lot, according to Reinhart. The changes would affect the R-2, R-3 and R-4 residential zones within the city.
Reinhart said that the recommended changes were written with the intention of addressing the lack of affordable housing in the Moab area.
“As units are being constructed [on smaller lots] it will drive prices down,” Reinhart said.
Reinhart also said that he felt there was a lot of misinformation about the ordinance the first time the city council considered it. He pointed out that the maximum height allowed for a building will be reduced to 30 feet from the current height of 40 feet. The ordinance also would also allow buildings to only cover 60 percent of the buildable area of a lot instead of the current allowance of 100 percent, he said.
“We’ve been over this several times, over and over,” planning commision member Laura Uhle said.
Commission chairwoman Kelly Thornton agreed.
“We’ve been working on this for a couple of years,” she said.
Thornton said the commission knew that there would be some impact. “We felt that some potential impact is acceptable,” she said.