Open house: Residents vent over impacts

Moab City Hall was filled with residents Tuesday, March 26, many who voiced concerns over the growth of tourism and the impacts it has caused. Representatives from Landmark Design held the open house.
Photo by Doug McMurdo

What was supposed to be an open house morphed into a comment-gathering session Tuesday when Mark Vlasic of Landmark Design, the firm under contract with the City of Moab and Grand County to create future land use plans, passed around the microphone to anyone who had something to say at a crowded City Hall.

They had plenty to say, it turns out, and every comment had an underlying theme: tourists have overrun Moab and that increase in visitors is taking a heavy toll in a lot of different places.

A finite supply of water, traffic congestion, zoning changes that might make existing neighborhoods for more dense than the infrastructure could handle – and have a negative impact on property values – were among the concerns raised.

The damage done when more people come than the land can handle, climate change, available and affordable housing, and the perception that there are already too many hotels and other overnight lodging options in Grand County were also cited.

Vlasic indicated Landmark Design will have to work hard and fast as the firm is under an ultra-tight deadline imposed by both the City of Moab and Grand County councils, which placed moratoria on new overnight lodging construction that end in early August, at which time developers can resume submitting plans for construction.

Vlasic said its plans would likely be submitted as early as May, well ahead of the deadline.

Grand County Clerk/Auditor Chris Baird at a recent meeting explained the need to get the proposed plans submitted early was due to public hearings that would have to be held before any votes could be taken in reference to future land use ordinances.

While residents might have vented verbally Tuesday, Vlasic said written comments are virtually guaranteed to become part of the record. They can be made online at www.moabarealanduse.com.