Landmark’s nightly rental options

The Grand County Planning Commission stood up the Moab City Council Tuesday night when the two government entities were supposed to meet at City Hall to hear the latest presentation from land use consulting firm Landmark Design.

The jilt couldn’t be helped. Two public hearings drew significant discussion at the Grand Center that didn’t end until well after 7 p.m., more than 90 minutes after the Landmark Presentation began. Zacharia Levine, the director of Community and Economic Development for Grand County, saved the day when he presented the information to planning commissioners.

Landmark Design is under contract with the City of Moab and Grand County to create future land use policies with the hope of gaining control of the boomtown growth of overnight lodging developments. Both government entities have moratoria in effect on such projects that will end in early August.

Much of what was shared Tuesday night at City Hall and the Grand County Planning Commission meeting will be provided in a Landmark Design-led community workshop scheduled for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at the Grand Center.

Levine said “all the tools” in the land use toolbox – one that is ever expanding with new tools, including regulatory – will be used going forward.

There are four proposed options: keep the status quo, allow growth with increased performance requirements; focused growth, determined by area; and extreme or strict regulation. In other words, the options range from doing nothing to tightly controlling overnight accommodations.

Keeping the status quo would deem overnight accommodations a “use by right” in all commercial zones. That means bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, RV parks and residential properties used as overnight accommodations would be permitted in a number of zones both in the city and the county.

The regulatory tools in play would be traditional zoning with use rights, as permitted, conditional or prohibited.

Option 2, allow growth with increased performance requirements, comes with the intent to “match the type and scale of overnight accommodations to the different existing parts of the community.”

This option calls for the scale and size of each project to be “tailored to match the character of each overlay district,” according to Landmark. Hotels, motels, campgrounds and RV parks would be allowed north of downtown, but not south, although condos and townhomes used as overnight accommodations and bed and breakfasts would be allowed – after they are evaluated and found to somehow benefit the local community.

The regulatory tools available include overlay zones, form-based codes, and mandatory mixed-use development and performance standards.

Option 3 calls for more intense overnight accommodation north of downtown, development that caters to the local community’s needs south of downtown – with overnight accommodation overlays – and the elimination of overnight accommodations downtown. No overnight accommodations would be allowed north of the Colorado River.

The intent of option 4 would be to “severely limit overnight accommodations throughout the area to focus new growth to other commercial, residential and community services,” according to Landmark.

All new overnight accommodations “shall” be eliminated as permitted uses. Overnight accommodations would be allowed as conditional uses “within small, designated overlay zones.” Government would actively discourage the growth of overnight accommodations and “promote growth in community-centric identified community nodes through the use of impact fees.”

All overlay zones for overnight lodging will require “on-site mixed-use development and employee housing – or contributions to the development of the same in a designated mixed-use project. Performance standards regarding limits on water use, noise, energy and transportation would be included.

Levine said he didn’t care for Landmark’s use of the word “extreme” regarding this final option, suggesting it could evoke a negative response.

Landmark as part of its April 30 public workshop will review the potential ordinances and zoning options, local and national case studies of cities with unique zoning – including six in Utah: Alta, Kanab, Ivins, Cedar City, Springdale and Park City, as well as five national cities: Asheville, North Carolina; Durango and Telluride, Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Portland, Oregon – review economic and market analyses for the area and discuss input received on preliminary land use concepts focused on overnight accommodations.