Planners to enhance lodging standards

A neon sign lets travelers know there are vacancies at a local hotel. Planners at Grand County Community and Economic Development are working to develop heightened standards for the future construction of overnight lodging. Such developments are currently banned as a use by right in both Grand County and the City of Moab. Photo by Doug McMurdo

Now that the governing councils of Grand County and the City of Moab have imposed temporary bans on the development of overnight lodging, it’s time to dive into heightened standards for such developments.

That’s the message Grand County Community and Economic Development Director Zacharia Levine sent at Tuesday’s Grand County Council meeting. Levine is looking to collaborate with the City of Moab Planning Department in developing building standards ranging from energy efficiency, water use and reuse, transportation infrastructure, including multimodal opportunities; design and aesthetics, and a mixed-use requirement.

Levine provided members with a rather in-depth summary of the discussion-only agenda item and was given informal direction to meet with Nora Shepard, his counterpart at the City of Moab, to discuss and refine those standards “as a good starting point.”

The end goal is to incorporate enhanced building and design standards into code.

Energy efficiency and emission

Levine in his summary noted “many jurisdictions” require commercial buildings to meet green standards rather than meeting specific energy efficiency standards. There are a number of ordinances enacted at other municipalities that require developers to upgrade standards.

Water use, reuse

Levine said his staff is reviewing model codes related to water use and reuse, especially as they relate to water efficient landscaping and greywater use and reuse.

Planners also will work with the health department, water and sewer agencies and the Moab Area Watershed Partnership to develop the appropriate language in the code.

Transportation infrastructure

Citing residents’ frustration with traffic congestion, Levine said the county is working with the City of Moab and the Utah Department of Transportation to develop regional transportation plans and new multimodal infrastructure.

Design and aesthetics

Levine said design guidelines “improve the physical quality of buildings, enhance the pedestrian experience, and protect the character of the surrounding neighborhood.”

He said standards for exterior construction materials, color and texture could be implemented to help with a “consistent design or aesthetic” in the Moab area.

Mixed-use

The draft ordinance that land use consultant Landmark Design wrote included language that requires such developments to preserve open space and includes a balanced mix of land uses. Mixed-use developments typically encourage imaginative site and building design as a part of a compatible mixture of land uses and multimodal transportation methods, said Levine in his summary.

While neither the Grand County Council nor Moab City Council have imposed a deadline on drafting the new standards into an ordinance, the Moab City Council at a meeting in July informally targeted the end of the year.