City residents react to proposed lodging ban

Members of the public addressed the Moab City Planning Commission on Thursday, June 27 as they review plans to pass what they say will be a temporary revocation of lodging as a protected use inside city limits. Photo by Carter Pape

Members of the public, including two candidates for Moab City Council, spoke at a public hearing of the Moab City Planning Commission on Thursday, June 27, expressing mixed sentiments about plans to continue curtailing lodging developments within city limits.

The planning commission and city council are in the process of passing a temporary removal of lodging as a protected use inside city limits. Elected officials have promised lodging development rights would return in the future while city staff and the planning commission work on new rules regulating the businesses.

Among the residents who spoke at the hearing were Bryon Walston and Solona Sisco, both of whom are campaigning this year to sit on the Moab City Council. Walston was the fourth person out of more than 20 to speak at the public hearing last week.

“I’m an advocate for property rights, and I feel like by restricting a right, it devalues the property somewhat, even though it might in the future—but we don’t know—might increase in value,” Walston said.

Walston said the city needs “controlled growth” but he disagrees with “taking the right away” to build and operate lodging.

Sisco spoke later in the public hearing, in favor of the ordinance. She advocated for the city to develop a tourism industry that “preserves nature” and provides “adequate housing.”

“When someone buys property, they should be aware that it is a financial risk,” Sisco said. “They should be aware that zoning laws and other ordinances are subject to change, influencing what they can do with their property.”

Other members of the public who spoke at the meeting talked about living in Moab over the years and watching it change, advocated for slower development, and expressed concerns about water usage.

Business owners, property owners, developers and others also attended the meeting to speak to both sides of the property rights issue. Some talked about losing the ability to house their own employees, some in favor of retaining property rights, and the values of investments in real estate.

The planning commission was scheduled to vote on recommending the ordinances to the city council on Wednesday evening, after press time. The Times-Independent will provide updates from that meeting in its ongoing coverage.