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.
Flaws in how a July 18 Grand County Council special meeting was noticed prompted Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan to require the council to ratify its revote on whether to temporarily remove overnight lodging developments as a use by right.
International visitors with VISA credit cards spent about $10 million in Moab in 2018. Hotel and motel occupancy rates that year averaged between 60 and 70 percent, and transient room tax collections through the end of May were down about $300,000 from the same time last year, according to the annual Moab Area Travel Council report for 2018 that Executive Director Elaine Gizler presented at Tuesday’s Grand County Council meeting.
Curtis Wells said his colleagues on the Grand County Council were aware he had serious concerns regarding the removal of lodging as a permitted use from existing businesses and commercial zoning long before the issue ever went to a vote on July 16 – saying the process morphed from one that would have implemented enhanced design standards for lodging operators to an outright ban, to building any more hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, condominiums, townhomes or private campgrounds.
The Moab City Council quietly approved an ordinance that temporarily removes as a use by right future overnight lodging developments while staff, led by City Planner Nora Shepard, creates new standards.
If at first you don’t succeed …
The Grand County Council meets at 2 p.m. today, July 18, to revisit Tuesday’s 3-3 vote on an ordinance that would temporarily ban construction of hotels, motels and other lodging providers on county land outside of the Moab city limits. The Moab City Council is exploring a similar ordinance.
Despite overwhelming public support, a proposed ordinance to remove overnight lodging as a use by right – meaning they could not be developed, at least temporarily in Grand County – failed to pass after council members voted 3-3, in the absence of Member Jaylyn Hawks, at Tuesday’s July 16 Grand County Council meeting.
In a letter sent to Moab City and Grand County officials, State Rep. Carl Albrecht, R-Richfield, expressed concern with proposed ordinances that would remove lodging as a protected use in and around Moab, which is part of District 70.
The Moab City Council reviewed a draft ordinance from the city’s planning commission at a meeting on Tuesday, July 9, that would remove lodging as a protected use inside city limits, protect existing lodging operations and set a soft deadline for developing new regulations by the end of the year.
Grand County residents can witness the Utah Court of Appeals in action Oct. 18 when judges take up an appeal of a lawsuit filed over a controversial plan to build a resort on state land in the Sand Flats Recreation Area.
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.