Moab citizens deserve zoning laws that guarantee stability so that the homeowner can plan for the future. Our current city code has many problems that need to be fixed. Everyone knows someone whose property was adversely affected by new construction next door.
The way current code reads, someone can buy a house next door and block out your sun so that your garden won’t produce food anymore. Or maybe you invested thousands of dollars in solar panels that no longer have access to the sun. You might be planning a new deck with a great view of the mountains that a new neighbor blocks out. Or your window, once with a great view of your blooming roses and the evening sky, will now be just feet away from someone else’s window, and they can look right into your bedroom.
The City Planning Commission just sent an ordinance to the City Council that will drastically change our residential zoning rules which, rather than address these problems, just makes everything worse.
This new code shrinks lot sizes, allows multiple family dwellings on tiny lots with no mention of how this will affect parking, increases the buildable footprint from 20 percent of the lot to 60 percent of the lot, and shrinks setbacks in most Moab neighborhoods including Steenville, Mountain View, Walker-Tusher, etc. There is zero language protecting your access to the sun for garden and solar gain, no mention of parking problems these changes will create, and no mention of changes in grade (someone can first bring in 12 feet of dirt, and then build the 30 foot wall). If the Council passes this ordinance, your neighbor will now be able to build a wall of windows 30 feet high, 7 feet from your property line, and extending for up to 70 percent or more of your shared boundary. View the ordinance online: http://www.moabcity.org/pdfs/notices/Ordinance201211.pdf.
These changes are too drastic, and they are not forward thinking. More people are going to need to grow some food, and more and more people are going to need to take advantage of the sun to not only heat their homes but supplement income (you can sell excess solar power to the power company.)
There are many strategies to increase density that still protect the homeowners: building below grade, stepping back taller buildings, so that only one story can be right next to your neighbor, and protecting neighbors’ access to the sun, so that someone on your north side can build higher than someone to your south. None of these are implemented. The proposal is all one-sided.
These changes are written for one purpose: to help the developer and too bad for current residents. And all under the guise of making housing ‘affordable.’ What a sham.
The vote on this issue could come as early as July 31. The agenda is not yet set. I urge Moab residents to contact your City Council and tell them we need more input on this issue from residents. These changes need to provide protection for current residents. City Council: Kyle Bailey, Kirstin Peterson, Gregg Stucki, Jeff Davis and Doug McElhaney.
Lucy Wallingford, Moab