A request to rezone 17 acres in Spanish Valley from Rural Residential (RR) to Small Lot Residential (SLR) was on the county council’s agenda Tuesday, Oct. 1. However, during the citizens to be heard session of the public meeting, land developer Randy Day requested to remove the item from the county’s consideration.

“We are withdrawing the rezone,” Day said. “We regret any misinformation or misunderstanding about our plans with the applied zone change.”

Day handed out a letter to each councilman and councilwoman.

“We hoped to create 50 new homes, in zoning not unlike two subdivisions within a quarter-mile radius to the property,” Day said. “However, we are being respectful to opinions of the neighbors.”

The subdivisions Day referred to were the Highland and Solano Vallejo subdivisions, which are both zoned SLR.

At the Tuesday, Sept. 17 meeting, Krissie Braun, the county’s community and development director, said the Highland subdivision was rezoned after it was developed for non-conforming lot sizes.

“Highland subdivision was subdivided in the 1960s as the current subdivision sits now. It had less than one-acre lots in it. When the land code was last amended, it was rezoned to meet the current uses on the ground,” Braun said during the Sept. 17 public hearing.

When Day finished speaking and left the council meeting, approximately 30 concerned citizens left the meeting as well.

Day’s proposal to rezone the 17.25-acre parcel near Old City Park drew strong outcry by neighbors in the area who signed petitions and attended standing-room only public hearings held by the county’s planning commission the county council.

Over 100 people attended the planning commission meeting held in August. Despite the commission’s recommendation to not rezone, Day asked to present the request before the county council in September. Residents living near the parcel in Spanish Valley filled the council chambers and spilled into the hallway during the county council’s public hearing.

Many of the citizens that attended the commission and council meetings to protest the zone change expressed strong concern that a change to SLR would create high-density housing in a rural setting.

RR zone is set for one home per acre, but allows for a maximum of 1.6 units per acre if land conservation and other developer incentives are met. SLR zone is for five homes per acre, but if land conservation incentives are met, up to 8 units per acres may be allowed. With 17 acres, that would allow up to a maximum of 136 units.

Day said that the project was misrepresented. He said didn’t want to build 136 units. He wanted to build 54 with lots that averaged a little under 10,000 square feet, just a little less than a quarter-acre.

Grand County’s General Plan, which was updated in 2012, specifies land designation by density: from residential infill; to transition residential for half-acre lots; to rural residential for one-acre lots; and, finally range, resource and recreation for a minimum of 5-acre lots. These designations are set to have compact housing closer to Moab and a pattern of increasingly rural character moving away from the city.

“We considered all aspects of the infrastructure, including traffic impact, water and sewage capacity and felt out proposal was sensible and could help meet the growing needs of our county,” Day said. “We are respectful and sensitive of the opinions expressed by neighboring residents and other concerned parties.”

Day expressed in both the planning commission and county council meetings addressing the rezone that there are few properties available for mid-income families that don’t qualify for low-income housing. He said that he wanted to build a neighborhood for that market.

“We recognize that there are many who are not convinced that there is a growing demand for the type of housing that we propose to develop on our site, and that we may well be ahead of our time,” Day said.

When the council arrived at the agenda item that would have considered the rezone request, councilman Rory Paxman requested Braun to answer a question that was asked at the Sept. 17 meeting regarding how many acres of SLR-zoned property are now available for development.

She said there was approximately 45 acres of undeveloped SLR-zoned land in the county: 25 acres adjacent to the City of Moab, 12 acres above Boulder Ave., and 8 acres adjacent to the Coyote Run subdivision in Spanish Valley.

“There is other SLR zoning, but it is already built out,” Braun said.