If no protests are filed within the designated 30-day protest period, the Moab City Council will then set a date for a public hearing, after which the council may vote on formally annexing the property and adding it within the boundaries of the city. That action could take place as early as late January or early February, but an exact date has not yet been determined, city officials said earlier this week.
City planning commission members Kelly Thornton, Jeanette Kopell, and Wayne Hoskisson discussed the annexation plans at length with Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart at last week’s regular meeting. Commission members expressed optimism that the annexation and future developments planned therein would bring both short-term and long-term benefits to the community.
Much of the discussion centered around the fact that the site includes a future planned campus for Utah State University.
Although no dormitories or on-campus housing are planned for the first phase of the USU Moab project, USU officials have said the campus is expected to attract between 600 and 800 students when the first phase is completed.
Handling that anticipated growth presents a challenge, Thornton said.
“It’s going to transform Moab,” she said. “This community is going to be a different place.”
Thornton added that she hopes USU will work closely with the community to resolve issues related to student and faculty housing and other concerns.
The annexation property actually comprises seven separate parcels, the largest of which is a 326-acre tract owned and administered by the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA). The proposed USU Moab campus is projected to be built on a 40-acre square parcel within the SITLA section.
The area to be annexed also includes a 60-unit affordable housing development currently being built west of Mill Creek Drive by the Housing Authority of Southeast Utah. Several already developed privately owned properties are also part of the proposed annexation, including a couple of single family residences and existing commercial businesses such Heaton’s Custom Cabinets and the Gravel Pit Lanes bowling alley.
According to city officials, various zoning designations are being proposed to allow for the broad range of development types, both current and future, located within the annexation area.
This week, USU Moab officials and architects unveiled a draft of the proposed campus master plan at a town meeting held Tuesday, Dec. 13 at the Grand Center. Some 60 people attended that two-hour event, which included a detailed review of architectural plans and time for questions and answers.
Steve Hawks, associate dean and executive director of USU Moab, pointed out that the entire project spans 30 years, and that the first phase is at least a few years away from completion.
“My own best guess is five years, realistically,” he said.
A $15 million private donation from the Walker family will fund the bulk of the first phase, but Hawks said several other sources of funding are also being secured.
The USU Moab campus is being designed to eventually accommodate as many as 3,500 students, with approximately half of them living on campus or adjacent to the campus, said architect Terrall Budge of Design Workshop.