City tables conditional use changes on housing
Council will hold a future workshop to potentially alter code

The Moab City Council spent most of an April 24 joint meeting with the city’s planning commission on conditional use permits and defining different types of housing.

As the city hopes to remove ambiguity from the process regarding housing permits and building codes, planning and zoning staff proposed a plan for eliminating conditional uses.

“The issue can sound cut-and-dry but it certainly is not.” Jeanette Kopell, a member of the commission, said.

In line with a statewide effort to remove the ambiguity of conditional uses, the commission drafted a document that implements the standards enforced in current conditional-use buildings into standard building code.

“We have reviewed the uses in each code that are conditional and tried to apply many if not all of the conditions, or standards, under which those buildings would have operated if they remained a conditional use,” Moab City Planner Jeff Reinhart said. “This is not a new code. By and large what you’re seeing in this document is what’s in the code now.”

The commission also clarified that the purpose of this document is not to change city building codes, but to streamline them, making the approval process for new building construction more efficient.

Hesitant to approve a code with loopholes, council members plan to thoroughly define every bit of the document, especially in relation to types of housing.

“What’s to stop 15 people from moving into one single-family home?” asked Council Member Mike Duncan. “Some sorts of standards need to be set for safety.”

“Legally, we can’t tell people who they can live with,” said Council Member Kalen Jones. “The city has legitimate authority to address overcrowding, and make sure housing is safe and sanitary.”

The council discussed the delineation among boarding houses, bed and breakfasts, and employee housing in the code. Reinhart admitted the difficulty of distinguishing among housing types in code, saying, “We have been encouraging businesses to find housing for their employees, and this is one of the solutions they’ve come up with … buying large houses and housing their employees … It’s part of the discussion about the definition of family as well.”

The meeting’s discussion covered only housing, while other topics such as parking and landscaping must still be addressed.

“At this point, as council, we are taking the ball from you,” said Mayor Emily Niehaus. “It’s our job to go through and mull over the new written code, and recommend proposed changes to staff.”

The council voted unanimously to table a vote amending the city ordinance concerning conditional uses. They elected instead to hold a future workshop to consider and potentially alter the code.

ByBy Jacque Garcia

The Times-Independent