City council to consider lodging standards, parking structure contract

The Moab City Council is scheduled to discuss at an upcoming meeting changes to the city’s lodging regulations amidst an indefinite moratorium on new such developments, pressure from state lawmakers to once again allow overnight accommodations to be built in Moab and efforts by the city’s planning commission and staff to write new standards.

Also on the schedule for the city at the Thursday, Oct. 24 meeting: approval of an $850,000 contract to design a new parking structure near the middle of town, underwritten by state funds earmarked for mitigating tourism impacts statewide; a resolution supporting a tax increase for the Moab Mosquito Abatement District; and a brief update from Rocky Mountain Power.

The meeting will start at 6 p.m. with a discussion between the council and the planning commission. At 7 p.m., regular business is scheduled to begin, and the other topics on the agenda will be up for discussion and possible approval.

Proposed lodging standards

Although the city council will not approve any new ordinances regulating lodging in Moab during Thursday’s meeting, the direction it provides to the city planning commission will likely prove decisive in how the final ordinances look when the council possibly approves them down the line.

Among the proposed standards that the planning commission and staff will present, standards requiring that new lodging developments: provide free bikes for guests, construct a shuttle stop on premises, build and use rainwater catchment, limit the total footprint of the buildings it constructs, and generate 80% of energy needs on-premises (for example with solar power).

The city is also considering requiring that particularly large developments include public art in their design and provide their own shuttle services.

Design standards under consideration would require that new lodging developments not obscure the view of the sandstone rim around Moab, that their total size stay under a certain square footage, that 20 percent of gross square footage on the first floor be dedicated to non-lodging operations and that no more than 10 percent of landscaping is covered in turf.

Some of the items where the planning commission has indicated a desire for guidance from the city council include how much square footage is too much square footage when it comes to building size of lodging developments, whether and how to require open space as part of new accommodations’ designs, and what type of architectural standards to require of lodging developments.

Planning Director Nora Shepard said in preparation for the meeting that planning staff are looking to accept new applications for lodging development “somewhere in Moab,” as opposed to nowhere, and that lodging development standards may be created in the future for zones other than the resort commercial zone north of town.

New parking garage

The city is gearing up to build a new parking structure inside the block northwest of the intersection of Center and Main. According to the contract with the Utah Department of Transportation that the city approved earlier this year, the project may cost up to $8.3 million to complete, including design and construction costs. The city would then take on the cost of maintenance upon the project’s completion.

The city went out in search of bids to complete first stage of the process, and after receiving seven responses, staff returned with a recommendation that the city award an $850,000 contract to Kimley-Horn and Associates, a planning and design consulting firm based out of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Kimley-Horn estimates in its proposal that roughly 320 parking spaces would be provided in the structure, which will replace the city’s existing mid-town public parking lot. The consultant also estimated in its proposal that construction on the project could start a year from now, after the design process is completed next summer.

The city is pursuing the parking structure project amidst local support for more downtown parking availability and an offer of funding from the state despite a recent study showing that parking was “ample” and even “excessive” in town, with parking space availability being insufficient during peak visitation only in the immediate vicinity of Center and Main.

Other items

The Moab Mosquito Abatement District’s effort to approve a tax increase to fund its activities during next year’s mosquito season must first go through the Moab City Council. The tax increase, for the owner of Moab’s median home (valued at $242,000) would see an annual $14.42 increase in the property taxes that fund the mosquito abatement district, from $43.08 to $57.50.

Rocky Mountain Power is scheduled to provide a 10-minute presentation during the meeting. The agenda does specify what the topic will be or who will present the update.

The city will also consider approval of a special event permit for the 2020 Canyonlands Half Marathon and a minor property exchange in Rotary Park with Dan Mick.