In a special meeting on Tuesday, May 30 the Grand County Council voted 6-1 to impose a six-month moratorium on the issuance of new bed and breakfast (B&B) permits outside of the overnight accommodations overlay zone.
The action came in response to citizen complaints of excessive noise and traffic generated by a proliferation of new bed and breakfasts that many say are operating more like nightly rentals.
Council member Jaylyn Hawks, a B&B owner herself, voted against the measure.
Speaking as a private citizen, Hawks told the council that it wasn’t accurate to place all B&Bs in the same category as those who were operating illegal nightly rentals.
“I believe we are going after the wrong people, trying to solve a problem that is largely overstated,” Hawks said.
The council received dozens of negative letters on the topic, and more than 100 people signed a petition urging the council to take action.
Council member Greg Halliday said that he had received numerous complaints on the subject and that the situation was “out of control.”
“People are bringing large trailers loaded with Jeeps and recreational vehicles into residential areas,” he said. “I think we need to slow this down.”
The Grand County land-use code currently allows for B&Bs in residential neighborhoods, whereas regular nightly rentals are only permitted in the highway commercial, and overnight accommodation overlay zones.
Grand County Community Development Director Zacharia Levine said that the problem is in the distinction.
“A traditional B&B brings up the image of a quaint old house, and a couple that cooks breakfast for you,” Levine told the Moab Sun News.
Levine said that a traditional B&B has little impact on neighborhoods, but that regular nightly rentals often attract a different clientele, and that these types of establishments are where most of the complaints come from.
“Today, even bed and breakfasts that meet the letter of the law are coming online more frequently and creating additional impacts on neighbors and neighborhoods than were originally anticipated,” Levine said.
Levine said that the council has tasked his department with drafting an amendment to the land use code that will better address the impacts of B&Bs in residential areas.
The draft amendment will go before a public hearing at a meeting of the Grand County Planning Commission on Thursday, June 14.
Council member Curtis Wells said that the moratorium would provide “a good opportunity to take control of the situation.”
“But we need to be careful how we frame it,” Wells said. “It should be more from a quality control management perspective.”
Much of the controversy stems from new B&Bs springing up in residential neighborhoods surrounding Old City Park and the Desert Hills/Highlands subdivision. One particular establishment on George White Road was repeatedly singled out.
Resident Sue Kirkham wrote the council saying that she was disturbed at 10 p.m. by “four-wheelers revving their vehicles up and down Desert Hills Road from the B&B on George White Road.”
Kirkham told the Moab Sun News that she wasn’t opposed to all B&Bs, and that the Desert Hills B&B was great.
“We never even know their guests are there, so it can be done right,” she said.
Kirkham said that residents should have a voice in the approval process.
“They are the ones who purchased their property thinking it was a neighborhood, not a commercial zone,” she said.
Kirkham said she was recently informed that a lot she purchased next to her on Carroll Lane will be turned into a B&B and “adventure center”.
“This is only one neighborhood on three streets in the county with four existing B&Bs – one is the works, and two others are planned” she said. “The commercialization of this neighborhood is being felt.”
Robert and Cheryl Cook wrote to the council expressing similar concerns, and said that the B&B on George White Road often hosts 10-20 guests with four or five large trucks and trailers filled with offroad vehicles making it incompatible with the character of the neighborhood.
“Bed and Breakfasts were originally designed to fit in a residential community,” the Cooks wrote. “The owner lived in the house and hosted the renters. This concept fit nicely within a residential community.”
But under current regulations, the Cooks said that entire houses are being built as B&Bs and rented out as nightly rentals, and that the homes often don’t belong to the resident manager.
“We hope the County Council recognizes the importance that the character of our neighborhoods plays in our lives,” Robert Cook told the Moab Sun News. “Destroying this character by continuing to allow these businesses into our neighborhoods would be the wrong thing for the vast majority of the county residents.”
Levine said that the moratorium will allow time for the public to participate in the process, and that any change to the land-use code would ultimately have to be approved by the county council.
“It is an appropriate time for the county to reevaluate its bed and breakfast regulations because the prevalence and general character of the use has changed significantly in recent years,” Levine said. “As the planning commission and county council prepare new regulations, I’m certain they will be emphasizing the importance of balancing neighborhood integrity and commercial accommodations.”
Residents complain of excessive noise and traffic, say B&Bs are operating
as nightly rentals in parts of county