The City of Moab has hired Kaitlin Myers as its senior project manager, according to Lisa Church, city spokesperson.
Myers will focus primarily on housing projects and policies, including the city’s planned affordable housing development at Walnut Lane. She began her new job at the city Sept. 30.
“I’m very happy the city chose me for this position. I’m really excited to be involved in direct housing development rather than primarily policy work around the issue,” Myers said. “Housing is a really personal issue and there’s lots of emotion tied to it. It’s also a big challenge to weigh the public’s interests while working to get the Walnut Lane project and other housing initiatives done.”
A Florida native, Myers came to Moab in 2016 to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Grand County Community and Economic Development office, where her main focus was affordable housing. In 2017, Myers became Grand County’s Community and Economic Development specialist, according to Church.
Since arriving in Moab, Myers has dedicated significant time as a volunteer with local organizations and boards seeking to find solutions to Moab’s affordable housing crisis, said Church. She has served as a board member of the Moab Area Community Land Trust since 2017, performing duties as both vice chairwoman and secretary. MACLT board members have now acquired 42 acres of undeveloped land that will be transformed into a 300-unit deed-restricted affordable housing project, said Church.
In her time with Grand County, Myers also worked on the Moab Area Affordable Housing Plan, for which she received an achievement award from the American Planning Association. She also worked with county staff to develop the high-density housing overlay, and the Moab Area Housing Resource Guide. Those efforts helped the county’s Community and Economic Development office twice receive Envision Utah’s “Your Utah, Your Future Award” in both 2019 and 2017.
“Kaitlin is truly dedicated to working to make Moab the best it can possibly be,” said Mayor Emily Niehaus. “Her passion for finding solutions to our affordable housing crisis, and her knowledge and understanding of the Moab community will be a huge asset to Moab City’s team.”
For now, most of Myers’ time at the city will be focused on moving forward with the Walnut Lane development.
Myers said that over the last few months, the main priority for Walnut Lane has been to clean up and improve management at the property, said Church. The city recently hired a new company to take over management, including performing some much-needed maintenance in and around the trailers.
The next step is to apply to rezone the northern half of the 2.95-acre property. Currently, the northern part of the trailer park is zoned R-2 while the southern half is zoned R-4. To achieve the most effective use of the property, the R-4 zone is preferred, Myers said.
“It is best planning practice to correct split-zoned parcels, and R-4 is the most appropriate zone for the current and proposed uses on the site,” she said.
City staff will next move forward with planning the development, “including creating a master plan and determining its first phase,” Myers said.
“Since the city purchased the property last year, one of the highest priorities has been to not displace any of the residents during the development process, so the primary challenge with this first phase is to identify the best place to start – to identify a ‘hole,’ if you will, to build some higher density housing for the current residents to move into to make room for later phases on the site,” Myers said. “We are considering several locations for the first phase, both onsite and offsite. Onsite, we have selected a couple of locations that would be appropriate for an apartment building.
“The city recently removed two mobile homes, which had been damaged by fire, which may make it easier to relocate some of the other trailers onsite to create space for the development,” she said. “Offsite, the city has also discussed the idea of partnering with local stakeholders to develop a mix of units for the residents of Walnut Lane, as well as additional workforce housing for the community.”
Myers and other city staff hope to begin generating a master plan soon.
“It is really important to me to partner with other city departments to ensure this is a good project, but even more so, I want the city to be a strong partner and resource for the residents of Walnut Lane and to engage the residents to make sure this is a place they would want to live when all is said and done,” she said.
“For now, the overall vision for Walnut Lane is to have a mix of densities and unit types – from apartment buildings to fourplexes, duplexes, and small single units. We want to make it a walkable, safe community for residents by clustering the parking on an exterior portion of the property, creating walking paths to homes, and providing community playgrounds and amenities to the residents. The development will follow best sustainability and design practices, and a master plan will ensure cohesiveness as it is built out.”