New hotel, conference center clears last hurdle
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Oct 03, 2013 | 3793 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Moab City Planning Commission has cleared the way for construction to commence on a new hotel to be located at the corner of 100 West and Williams Way. The commission approved the commercial site plan for the first phase of the 115-unit development, which will also include a restaurant, a conference center and employee housing.

Plans for developing the 5.6-acre property have been in the works for several years. Red Rock Partners requested several zoning changes for the property, dating as far back as 2008. Though their first attempts failed, they were eventually successful in getting all of the property rezoned. The final zone change was recommended by the planning commission and approved by the Moab City Council in 2011.

When the zone change was considered by the city council, several residents expressed concerns about the loss of the mobile home park that was located on the property. In an effort to replace some of that lost lower-income housing, Red Rock Partners has included eight employee housing units for the hotel, the developers said during the Sept. 26 planning commission meting.

Mike Bynum of Red Rock Partners said that his development group had originally planned to build 12 employee-housing units, but is limited to eight units by Moab city code.

“The code currently will not allow residential use on the bottom floor,” planning commission chairwoman Kelly Thornton said.

Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart said the planning commission has been working on an amendment to the code that would allow employee housing on the bottom floor of commercial zones. If that ordinance is passed, all 12 units that were originally planned could be built, Reinhart said.

Although the planning commission had a few questions regarding landscaping for the project, the main concerns expressed by most members were related to parking.

Red Rock Partners requested an exception to city parking regulations. Reinhart explained that city code would require a total of 145 parking spaces to accommodate customers at the hotel, restaurant and conference center. However the plans submitted by Red Rock Partners only include 128 spots.

Jeff Pillus, an engineer from Durango, Colo., said the developers conducted an extensive parking study to determine the appropriate number of parking spots that would be needed for the facility.

“We analyzed, hour by hour, for all these different uses and what the hour-by-hour peak parking was,” Pillus said.

He explained that someone attending a conference would probably not be parking at the hotel at the same time as many of the hotel guests.

Thornton wasn’t convinced that the analysis presented would prove true in Moab.

“If you go to a conference in Chicago, you fly in and then take a cab to the hotel,” she said. “That’s not going to happen here. I think you’ll see most people driving in from Salt Lake or Price.”

The planning commission eventually voted to approve the parking exception with the condition that any parking issues that come up will be addressed before the commission considers approval for phase two of the project.

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