County OKs new overnight lodging rules

Council places ‘soft cap’ on future development

At right, Zacharia Levine Jan. 7 discusses new development standards for overnight lodging projects. See related story. Photo by Doug McMurdo

The Grand County Council voted 5-0 with one recusal to adopt new overnight lodging development standards at the first meeting of 2020 held Tuesday, Jan. 7.

There was little discussion before the vote thanks in large part to a workshop held earlier in the day that was led by Zacharia Levine, the county’s director of Community and Economic Development.

The vote also came following a public hearing that was held Dec. 17. The workshop Tuesday was held largely to give Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan the opportunity to ensure the proposed ordinance passed her legal review.

Levine took a couple of straw polls during the workshop, one that focused on this key question: Should Grand County put a hard or soft cap on the number of overnight lodging units that would be allowed? The current ratio of 1.4 overnight units to 1 primary residence is out of kilter, a problem the county’s High-Density Housing Overlay might eventually balance out.

As more long-term rentals are built the ratio will go down, said Levine.

Still, the flexibility question merited debate sparked by Council Member Greg Halliday of Castle Valley.

“This is a Spanish Valley issue,” he said. “Why make [the cap] county wide?” He cited the Book Cliffs area “far removed from Spanish Valley” that might be the location for an overnight lodging development. “Do we want to tie their hands because of Spanish Valley?”

One such development is a small project proposed for Westwater that would cater to night sky enthusiasts.

In the end, Halliday and members Mary McGann, Jaylyn Hawks and Evan Clapper shared consensus on a soft cap. Member Gabriel Woytek opted for the hard cap and members Rory Paxman and Curtis Wells were not in attendance.

During the regular meeting, Halliday, McGann, Hawks, Clapper and Woytek voted to adopt the ordinance. Paxman recused himself from the vote, citing a conflict of interest.

Below is a synopsis of what is in the new rules:

Energy: All projects with the exception of RV parks shall produce 80 percent of energy needs through renewable sources, and industry-established conservation standards must be met.

Water: All developments must have a maximum feasible rainwater catchment system and use this water for beneficial on-site uses rather than culinary water.

Grey water reuse systems must also be installed and used for beneficial on-site purposes.

Transportation: Developers must provide a space to accommodate a transit or shuttle stop and a covered, lockable bike storage. They also must provide active transportation and non-motorized trail easements dedicated to the public if they are part of the county’s trails master plan.

Developers must provide a narrative and transportation solutions that aim to “reduce projected vehicle trips” by 20 percent. There must be one electric car charging station for every 25 units with a certain percentage of them handicap accessible.

Mixed use: The council must give preference for mixed-use projects, including commercial or long-term residential uses.

Open space: Projects must include functional open space open to the public, with the amount of open space dependent on the size of the project.

Building design: The height limit will be 35 feet unless the developer can show that the view shed will not be impacted. Conversely, the maximum height might not be allowed if a view shed would be affected.

No façade or building wall shall exceed 60 linear feet, and designs shall vary between vertical façade divisions and from adjacent buildings by the type of dominant material, color or scale, or orientation of that material.