Monday, June 1, 2020


Moab, UT

71.2 F

    Views clash on nightly lodging

    Featured Stories

    Leaving Guatemala

    I selected “send me where I’m needed most,” my desire to immerse myself in another country’s culture not affixed to any location in particular.

    Widespread testing is key to Moab’s path forward

    Once a person develops symptoms of COVID-19, it has likely already been days since they started unknowingly spreading the virus. As such, local health officials want to expand testing locally for the coronavirus.

    County to diversify post-virus

    The impacts of the pandemic have renewed local leaders’ focus on a topic many have worried over for years but must now confront in much starker terms: Economic diversification.

    Arches, Canyonlands to reopen May 29

    Arches and Canyonlands national parks will partially reopen to the public at the end of the month, according to a spokesperson for the parks, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health authorities.

    The party is over at Imagination Station art supply store

    Cindy Sue Hunter serves a customer at her art supply store, Imagination Station, which has been reconfigured to allow shoppers to do what Hunter calls “door shopping."

    Where is broadband available in Moab?

    When the superintendent of Utah schools announced last month that school would...
    Doug McMurdo
    Doug McMurdo
    Editor Doug McMurdo reports on news out of the Moab City Center, tourism, courts, change of government and more.

    Planners favor ban, landowners object

    People who own highway frontage, manage overnight lodging operations, are property rights advocates – or are all of the above – showed up en masse to oppose a fulltime prohibition against developing overnight accommodations in Grand County. It might have been a case of too little, too late for a majority of Grand County Planning commissioners, who in a series of votes following a public hearing Tuesday sent a recommendation asking the Grand County Council to enact legislation that would implement the ban on new lodging developments.

    Four months into a six-month moratorium on overnight lodging applications imposed by the county and City of Moab, after numerous public meetings, open houses and workshops with Landmark Design – the land use consulting firm both government entities retained to help draft future land use ordinances – and taking public input through it all, there was nearly universal consensus that it was past time to “hit the pause button” on overnight lodging development to help get a handle on the matter at a time when there is more tourist traffic than the current infrastructure can support.

    Until Tuesday. That’s when planning commissioners held a public hearing that brought out enough people to fill the council chambers, including several local landowners, such as Katherine Holyoak, who told commissioners she had no intent to convert property she owns into overnight lodging, but she also said prohibiting her from doing so infringed on her property rights. She said she will eventually leave the nearly 100 acres she owns in Grand and San Juan counties to her children, and she wanted them to have the choice to develop or not.

    Richard McElhaney

    Longtime local general contractor Richard McElhaney said stopping overnight lodging on Highway 191 where he owns property would “badly” hurt his retirement plan. He also claimed the prohibition would violate his property rights.

    Black Oak Development CEO and Sage Creek developer Wayne Aston took a more conciliatory approach. “Prohibition doesn’t work well in this country,” he said, adding that force would promote strife. Others said rather than stopping development of lodging outlets, work should be put into making tourists pay for the problems they cause. Still others said approving the prohibition would create market uncertainty and scare away investors.

    Wayne Aston

    Randy Day said the moratorium has already cost him $200,000, but he didn’t go into specifics.

    But not everyone who spoke was in opposition. Wayne Hoskisson, a now-retired former executive director of Red Rock Forests, said the huge number of tourists impact all property owners, not “just people who invested a lot of money [in order to] make a lot of money.”

    Liz Ballenger

    Liz Ballenger, an ecologist with the National Park Service, said she was “taken aback” to see so many speak in opposition, saying the majority of Grand County citizens favor the complete ban on overnight accommodations. “Please don’t forget the comments you have received,” she said. “You have to make tough decisions. We’re at a critical juncture.”

    Cricket Green

    Following public input, six of seven commissioners voted to recommend the Grand County Council approve the proposed ordinance, which would effectively repeal and replace land use rules governing overnight accommodations. The lone holdout was Cricket Green, who said the issue for her was property rights. Green said she was “fifth generation,” and that “many people who favor [the prohibition] don’t own property.”

    The comment compelled fellow Planning Commissioner Emily Campbell to later say many people who rent contribute to the betterment of Grand County.

    Based on lengthy discussion during the hearing, questions the Grand County Council will have to address – if council members agree to enact the ordinance following a July 16 public hearing – include how to classify bed and breakfast providers and whether to allow existing lodging businesses to expand. There is also concern over rules that limit campgrounds and whether they should be loosened.

    The permanency of the prohibition is another sticking point. Day said it might be cheaper to just hire a lawyer rather than going through the county. Several planning commissioners noted the ban could always be lifted.

    Share this!

    - Advertisement -

    Latest News

    City cuts jobs to bridge huge tax loss

    These steps are in addition to cuts made March 13 when 60 part-time employees were terminated.

    Youth spots fire, alerts authorities

    "They (firefighters) figured out where the fire was coming from … it started with a cigarette.”

    Broken bones in Left Hand

    All but one of the injuries involved jumping from rocks into a shallow pool at the base of a waterfall.

    Employment data confirms Grand is among worst hit in state

    The figures confirm earlier estimates that roughly one in five to one in six jobs in Grand County have been lost to COVID-19.

    Widespread testing is key to Moab’s path forward

    Once a person develops symptoms of COVID-19, it has likely already been days since they started unknowingly spreading the virus. As such, local health officials want to expand testing locally for the coronavirus.