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.
Within the next two months, the City of Moab will likely have new ground rules for local hoteliers and other lodging developers seeking to partake in the large and growing economic pie that is Utah tourism.
Lodging is Moab’s most lucrative business, and as elected officials debate draft ordinances that would regulate new hotel developments, they see an opportunity to leverage that economic opportunity to bring to Moab greater economic diversity in the form of new restaurants, retail outlets and even possibly daycares.
A proposed legislative bill to reduce the amount of transient room tax that must be spent to promote tourism in Grand and other Utah counties was met with mixed feelings Friday when the Grand County Council and Moab Area Travel Council met – but the two sides ultimately agreed to put up a united front when lawmakers address the legislation in the 2020 session, which begins Jan. 27.
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.
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.