A proposal to build homes on a currently mostly-vacant piece of property has received preliminary approval from the Moab City Planning Commission — despite changes to the developers’ plans at the last minute.
Brian Ballard, one of two landowner partners in the development, told the commission during a meeting on Thursday, Dec. 14, that instead of two-family twin homes originally indicated for the project, he wanted the option to build single-family dwellings.
The area, in the vicinity of 650 South and 400 East, is zoned for either single-family or two-family homes, giving the commission no choice but to give the plan preliminary approval. While the commissioners’ vote was unanimous and unmixed, their feelings about it were not.
“I understand people wanting to have single-family dwellings in that area, but it’s not what we planned,” said Commission Member Wayne Hoskisson, who nevertheless seconded the motion to accept Ballard’s preliminary plat plan.
Commission Chair Laura Uhle said, moments after voting to approve the plat, “I would really hope that we would utilize all our multi-family zoned areas for multi families. That’s just food for thought.”
At a public hearing prior to the approval, and prior to Ballard explaining the change, local resident Joe Kingsley lauded the project, thinking — as had the commissioners — that it would provide badly needed housing.
“I’m very excited to see this happen,” Kingsley said. “We need housing, and this is going to help support that problem. I fully, 100 percent support this project.”
Another resident who lives in the neighborhood, however, felt differently. Jim Lewis wanted to make sure that the subdivision didn’t propagate a problem the city and county have both been trying to remediate — overnight rentals.
“The biggest concern that I think we have in the neighborhood, is the newest duplex that is there seems to be rented out on a nightly basis,” Lewis said.
It was that kind of sentiment, Ballard said, that went into his decision to modify his original plan. In a follow-up interview Ballard said neighbors had put in their two cents’ worth.
“I received a little bit of comment from my neighbors who … asked me if I could consider building single-family homes,” Ballard said. “The concern with some of the neighbors is they would like to see that not turn into too much of a high-density area.”
Ballard did not take the comments of commissioners after the vote as a rebuke. He said he understands their desires and he plans to try to accommodate all points of view with a mix of single-family houses and twin homes.
“I’m really happy to see that they are on board trying to increase the density of housing in our city as much as we can, within reason not to impact the local residents to the point that they feel like they’re being pushed on,” Ballard said. “We have limited property in our town, and we have a housing issue, we really do.”