RV owners who are looking for a quiet place to spend the night shouldn’t get their hopes up if they catch a fleeting glimpse of a reference to plans for a new RV park in Spanish Valley.
While those plans make no mention of the words “workforce housing,” the proposed Mill Creek RV Park would serve as long-term housing for employees of Colin Fryer’s Red Cliffs Lodge, as opposed to overnight rental spaces.
“It’s the only way to allow their employees to legally live in a motor home,” Grand County Council vice chair Chris Baird told the Moab Sun News. “They have to establish an RV park.”
Fryer outlined his plans for the property during a public hearing at the county council’s meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and council member Jaylyn Hawks said his presentation addressed her initial questions about the proposal.
“I thought it was strange that you’d want to get into the business of overnight RV rental space, so I’m very relieved, and I do commend you,” Hawks said. “That’s somebody taking a step in the right direction.”
For the most part, council members were receptive to Fryer’s plans to house Red Cliffs’ employees at six full-service RV/ trailer sites on the 0.92-acre property, which is located at the southeast corner of Holyoak and Arnel lanes. However, some members said they’d like to see several changes to the project as it currently stands before they take action at their next meeting on a conditional use permit for the proposal.
Grand County Council chair Elizabeth Tubbs asked Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald to explore the possibility of imposing deed restrictions on the property. Without them, she said, there’s always a possibility that the land could otherwise give way to short-term RV rentals.
“We can’t predict – and you can’t predict – that in perhaps 10 years, you decide, ‘Well, this isn’t working for me … and I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Tubbs told Fryer. “We now have an RV park on that (property).”
Baird told the Moab Sun News that council members can always impose conditions on the proposal to mitigate any of their concerns.
“So hopefully, we’ll find some way to establish that use for long-term living, as opposed to short-term,” he said.
Baird said he is not especially concerned about the possibility that average-sized cars would drive to and from the property each day.
“What I’m concerned about is approving this and somewhere down the line, having great big RVs coming in and out of there on a regular basis,” he said. “And so, if I’m going to be OK with this project, we have to get to a place where I know that’s not going to happen.”
If Baird has any say in the matter, he’d like Fryer to find another access point to and from the property. Under the current proposal, the ingress and egress are located on Holyoak Lane, not far from the Mill Creek Drive intersection.
“It would be really atypical to establish an ingress and an egress right at that spot,” he said.
Baird has lived right around the corner for 20 years, and he said that peak traffic patterns on Holyoak already pose dangers to children in the neighborhood.
“The only way they can get out of there on a bike is to go right past that spot in that intersection, and that’s a tough one for kids to get through,” he said.
If someone on the council proposes a conditional use that moves the access points onto Arnel Lane and farther away from the intersection of Mill Creek Drive and Holyoak Lane, Baird said he would support it.
“It would put the turnoff back another 40 to 50 feet,” he told the Moab Sun News.
Tubbs said she thinks the project is a great idea, but she questioned what would happen if the council approves the proposed layout of the units, which are not in sync with the county’s land use code.
“One of my concerns is that if we make an exception and say, ‘Well, it’s OK for you to do this, even though it’s outside the parameters of the land use code,’ we set a precedent,” she said.
If the project can be built within the county’s parameters, Tubbs said she’s all for it.
Grand County Community Development Director Zacharia Levine told the council that other configurations of the RV spaces could work.
“This project is viable even within the parameters of the land use code,” he said. “So it’s not us trying to deny something that we know is a good thing for the county; it’s just trying to align what is being proposed with what our land use code says.”
Although his current plans deal specifically with RV homes, Fryer said it’s conceivable that he could eventually move forward and build the kinds of “tiny homes” that younger Americans increasingly gravitate toward.
“That’s the kind of thing that needs to start being talked about, and something needs to happen pretty quick so that we can start doing them,” he said.
The smaller homes could be built pretty quickly, and they could be laid out in a “really nice little village atmosphere,” he said. But it’s impossible to build them right now, he said, with the zoning designations that are currently in place.
“You’ve got to get away from this quarter-acre lot business and all this open space,” Fryer said.
Grand County Council member Lynn Jackson applauded Fryer’s efforts to find homes for some of Red Cliffs’ employees.
“You’re taking the bull by the horns, trying to make this work, so I think we should try to make it work, too,” he said.
Jackson said he believes that people like Fryer can best address the community’s chronic shortage of affordable housing and workforce housing.
“If we allow reasonable compromise, I believe the private developers and business owners will solve this problem for us,” he said. “But instead, we want to talk about land trusts, and taking taxpayer money to buy land and whatever else.”
RV park would accommodate Red Cliffs Lodge employees
The public comment period on the proposal will remain open until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9. The council is scheduled to take action on the request at its next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15.