I read with interest an article in The Times-Independent (Dec.6) about the city legislative action regarding Ordinance 2018-01, titled “Resolution Repealing Conditional Uses from the Moab Municipal Code,” specifically for the C2 zone. A quote from local attorney Christina Sloan that, “I fear our mayor and council have permitted unethical (and potentially illegal) action which removes longstanding uses by right from certain zones, without proper transparency,” caught my attention.
I too am concerned with the lack of transparency in the passage of Ordinance 2018-01, which through change of language and omission allows for an unlimited number of homes to become commercially owned dormitories in a previously protected R2 residential neighborhood zoned for single- and two family homes “characterized by spacious yards and other residential amenities adequate to maintaining desirable residential conditions.” (17.45.010)
In addition to that concern, R2 residents recently learned about Proposed Ordinance 2018-19 Planned Affordable Development (PAD), that turns the R2 neighborhoods into not only a zone for commercial dormitories, but also allows for high density apartments and multi-family “housing types” that can be built with 15-foot setbacks from the front of the lot, seven-foot setbacks from the side and 12-foot setbacks from the rear of the lot. Along with the increased parking, traffic, noise and lights, these buildings, when constructed within existing neighborhoods, will significantly alter the “desirable residential conditions” previously protected by code in the R2 zone.
To continue to quote attorney Sloan, “When taking away private property rights and thereby affecting lives, retirements, and millions of dollars in property value, the city should be excessively transparent in its procedure and engage the public fully.”
The R2 zoned neighborhoods are full of families who value the safety of their quiet residential streets. The R2 zoned neighborhoods include retirees and other long-term residents who helped build this town and community and who understand and value the stability of a residential neighborhood. The R2 zone is full of folks who purchased property because of the protections offered by the R2 zone, and who have significant financial investments in those properties.
My husband and I chose to retire in Moab because of our history here as members of a vibrant and diverse community struggling to pull itself out of a recession brought on by the collapse of the uranium industry. I am proud of what Moab has achieved, but worry that the effort to include the R2 zone in the PAD in order to supply sufficient affordable housing to what has become a potentially unsustainable surge in construction of hotels and their need for workers, without considering impacts to the R2 neighborhoods that were not designed for such high density (water, sewer, parking, etc.), is premature.
Removing the R2 zone protections from the only residential neighborhoods Moab will ever have sets Moab on course to become a company town of employee dorms and high-density apartments. If you look at the number of hotels recently built, under construction and proposed, you are left with the distinct impression that our elected representatives are more focused on supplying lodging for the hotel industry employees than they are with their constituents' concerns and the equally daunting problem of affordable housing for essential service providers and their families (teachers, police, pastors, medical, etc.)
I support affordable housing efforts that include all stakeholders in the discussion and encourage the mayor and city council to take a step back and look at the current process from the perspective of their constituents and what a shared vision for the future of Moab must address.
If you live in one of the R2 neighborhoods, contact the mayor and city council. Find out what is going on with the R2 zoning and high density PAD overlay and how that will impact your property values and your neighborhood. If you think the R2 zone should be removed from the PAD ordinance, please let them know. They want to hear from you.