Neighborhoods, economic issues highlighted during city general plan update sessions
by Laura Haley≤br≥≤i≥contributing writer≤/i≥
Nov 01, 2012 | 1447 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Several Moab city residents met in mid-October with Moab City staff and consultants to discuss a range of issues regarding the update to the city’s general plan, which has been under revision for the last several months.

Moab city staff recently hired consultants from the SE Group to help the city revise and update the general plan. The current draft of the plan was adopted by the city in 2002. There have been some small revisions since then, but the current process will examine and revise the whole plan, city officials said.

To ensure that the plan revisions reflect the visions of local residents, Moab city staff and members of the SE Group began collecting public input on the plan in August. That process continued last month with a series of forums that addressed a variety of issues consistently raised by residents during the first meetings. Those topics were: living with the environment, neighborhoods and economic sustainability.

Each forum lasted approximately one hour. Mark Kane, director of community planning for the SE Group, and Melissa Sherburne of SE Group led the discussion groups through the topics. The groups were comprised of residents chosen by the city who had expressed specific interest in the topics.

The forum on neighborhoods was attended by several residents. According to Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart, the city attempted to invite representatives from a variety of neighborhoods throughout the city.

Kane opened the presentation by talking about the different things that define a neighborhood, including boundaries, focal points, history and culture. He explained that neighborhoods are important to a community for a number of reasons.

“[Neighborhoods are] often an important part of establishing a community identity,” he said.

During the presentation, Kane also discussed different things that help create good neighborhoods, including the size of the neighborhood, diversity, the type of energy and a sense of connectedness.

“[Moab’s] downtown core is a great example of all of these things,” Sherburne said.

The citizen representatives were also asked to talk about the neighborhoods that they live in. Kane asked them to discuss what they liked about their neighborhoods, what concerns they had and how they felt area neighborhoods can be improved.

Several residents took the chance to speak, and one of the most common themes they voiced was connectedness.

Moab resident Emily Niehaus said that she liked having easy access to the commercial area of town. Yet, she said, her neighborhood still feels residential.

Moab resident Joan Gough said that she loves being connected.

“Connectedness is critical,” she said. Gough said that her main concern is that she may lose her view of the cliffs if people continue to build high-rise houses behind her home.

Steve Goodwin spoke about the importance of Grand Oasis mobile home park in Moab’s quest for affordable housing.

“It’s the largest unsubsidized asset of affordable housing in the city,” he said. “For a person of limited means who wants to own a home, you can do it there.”

The forum on economic stability touched on the unique economy that currently sustains Moab. Kane explained that, from a planning standpoint, economic stability encompasses several components, including year-round quality jobs, a dedicated workforce and the ability to meet the needs of locals.

Kane also mentioned the need to keep tax revenue losses to a minimum.

“The situation here is whether or not people are driving elsewhere to get those goods and services they need,” he said. “If they are, that’s a loss in taxes that are leaving your community.”

All three presentations are available for viewing online at Kane said that interested citizens are welcome to view the presentations and submit any questions or comments. Those comments will be considered as the plan update progresses, he said.

The next public meeting regarding the update will be held Nov. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Moab City Hall.

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