Moab’s City Council tabled a rezoning request that would allow the owner of a local bed and breakfast to sell his property as a B&B rather than a residence, which would likely yield a far lesser market value.
The property owner, Keith Herrmann, submitted the rezone request in February, before the city and county passed moratoria on the development of new overnight accommodations. Earlier this month, the city planning commission recommended approval of the rezone request with one “no” vote.
City commissioners said during a meeting Tuesday, March 26 that they expected there could be backlash if they approved the rezone, which would enable a vacation housing business to become established on the property during a moratorium on development of new overnight accommodations.
Some commissioners also cited fears about “spot zoning,” a hesitation shared by the lone planning commissioner who voted against the rezone request earlier this month.
Spot zoning is illegal in some jurisdictions because it can represent arbitrary treatment of property owners’ rights. However, according to Moab’s City Attorney Chris McAnany, spot zones like the one requested by Herrmann are generally legal in Utah.
Why was a B&B there
in the first place?
The moratorium recently passed by the city prohibits development of new overnight accommodation projects, but since the B&B development at 778 West Kane Creek Blvd., already exists on Herrmann’s property, the moratorium itself would not prohibit him or the next property owner from applying for and obtaining a business license for a B&B to operate on the property.
What disallows a B&B from operating is the property’s zoning; it lies inside the RA-1 zone, which expressly prohibits the operation of B&Bs. Herrmann’s request is that the property be rezoned for C-1, a commercial zone that allows for B&Bs but not other overnight accommodations.
Herrmann and his late wife had operated a B&B out of the property for years before Herrmann closed it down roughly three years ago. He cancelled his business license at that time because he was experiencing health issues, and he had endured the death of his wife years earlier, according to testimony at the meeting.
Herrmann had been allowed to operate the B&B despite its RA-1 zone designation, because the business was “grandfathered in” when the city approved zoning changes that affected the property.
The city council will have an opportunity to make a final decision on Herrmann’s rezone request at its next meeting April 9. Until then, commissioners said that they are seeking public feedback regarding the decision.
If Herrmann’s rezone request is ultimately approved, he will have an opportunity to sell the property as a B&B rather than a residence and get a higher price. It would also open the possibility of a future property owner redeveloping the property into a small business operation, such as a restaurant, because of what is allowed in the C-1 zone.
If his request is denied, he can reapply or continue attempting to sell the property, but would likely get a much lower price for it in the end since it would be sold as a residence, not a business property.