Trojan horse in the Highlands…

While all eyes were on Sand Flats watching a 50-room hotel morph into 150 rooms, a large house was being erected in the Highlands at 3061 George White Road.

Come to find out, this “house” is not a second-home or even a cozy bed and breakfast. It appears to be an overnight and short-term rental with five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a lobby, kitchen and dining area. With the loft, there are beds for 30 — all this in a residential neighborhood, not a commercial or resort special district.

Is it a hotel? It is listed on such hotel sites as Trivago, Hotels.com, and Resorts and Lodges.com. However, the owner, James Whitmore/Premier Lodging, claims that they “have all correct and current licenses and permits” to do business as a bed and breakfast. Worse, it appears that an adjacent area is being cleared for a second structure. This giant bungalow is a Trojan horse.

The Highlands has been a quiet residential neighborhood, a retreat from the mighty Moab madness, and a refuge from the motor mania and traffic spasms that seasonally afflict downtown and the highway.

Almost a decade ago, it took a nationwide housing bubble and resultant great recession to stop the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration’s predecessor to Sand Flats, i.e., the Cloudrock development at Johnson’s-Up-on-Top. What will it take to halt the runaway train of outsized hotels that are overrunning Moab, and the cancer of overnight rentals that has metastasized into every residential area in the county?

—Jean Binyon

Moab