Do you support or oppose a company’s plans to annex its property into the city, and then rezone a portion of that property for General Commercial uses?
Wherever you stand on the proposal, you’ll have your chance to formally comment on it next month.
The Moab City Council is set to hold a public hearing at its next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10, on a proposal to consider the annexation and rezoning of land that could eventually accommodate high-density workforce housing and other uses.
The 10-acre property at 963 N. 500 West and 1001 N. 500 West begins near the intersection of U.S. Highway 191 and 500 West, and runs west, following a narrow panhandle shape that is just 200 feet wide and about 2,178 feet long. It’s currently zoned Rural-Residential and is home to an uninhabitable single-family residence, as well as a small business office and a large metal building that commercial and industrial businesses have used since the 1950s.
In addition to requesting annexation into the city limits, applicant KM Real Estate Enterprises, LLC is asking the city for two zoning changes. The first change – to the eastern 3-acre portion of the property – would designate the area a C-4 General Commercial Zone; an R-4 Manufactured Housing Residential zoning designation would be applied to the western 7 acres, where much of the property lies adjacent to the Palisades Subdivision.
KM Real Estate Enterprises manager Kelly Shumway said the company is seeking the highest-possible density zoning for that land in order to help address Moab’s affordable housing crisis.
“Zoning that allows for high-density workforce housing is desperately needed in Moab,” Shumway told the Moab Sun News. “Our property is commercial/industrial and we believe our request not only meets the needs and desires of the city but is also a charitable compromise for our community.”
Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart gave council members an overview of the proposal during the council’s meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26. According to Moab City Manager David Everitt, Reinhart and other city officials are trying to get ahead of some of the more controversial items before they come up.
“This is simply an informational briefing (and) a chance for you to have a conversation, brainstorm, say what you like (and) what you don’t like,” Everitt said.
Moab City Council member Heila Ershadi said that one such recurring issue has to do with the difficulties that arise when a General Commercial Zone is put next to an R-2 Residential Zone.
“I think that that’s something we’ve discussed quite a bit, and I think that bears looking at it again,” Ershadi said.
Reinhart said there was much discussion about the owners’ plans for the property when the proposal last appeared in front of the Moab City Planning Commission on Aug. 10.
“And we don’t really have a good sense of that by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.
The city has already completed the certification process for the annexation petition, and the protest period has occurred; no protests were received. While the city’s code specifies that the petition may be submitted to the city’s planning commission once it’s been certified, city officials say it’s unlikely that it will return to the planning commission.
Shumway said that she’s learning about the city’s process as she goes, but she believes that Reinhart and his team prepared an informative and complete briefing about the proposal.
“Once again, the city has provided a clear layout of the process and addressed any misconceptions brought to their attention,” she said.
Shumway said her company respects the process, and trusts the council will adhere to its objectives, including the facilitation of orderly growth and the promotion of present and future residents’ general welfare.
But some critics of the proposal have raised questions about the city’s standard review.
In particular, Reinhart said that some residents who attended the planning commission’s Aug. 10 meeting were upset that they were not allowed to comment.
“We had a lot of frustrated people at the planning commission meeting who were basically saying, ‘We want to be heard,’ but it was not a public hearing at that stage,” Reinhart said.
If the board had allowed the public to talk at that point, he said, it would have been an “injustice.”
“It would have been unbalanced, because those who may have (wanted to speak) in favor of it would not have had the opportunity to show up, because it was not advertised as a public hearing,” he said.
Moab resident Kya Marienfeld doesn’t live in the Westwood or Palisades neighborhood, but after hearing about the proposed rezone from other community members, she said that she’s concerned about the General Commercial zoning.
“(It) seems like there should be more of a happy medium that could potentially be come to, where the landowner could also get some economic benefit out of it, but it wouldn’t be placing potentially a high-industrial area right next to what is one of the largest R-2 (residential) areas in the city,” she told the council during its Aug. 22 meeting.
Moab resident Russell Facente said he has no problem with the annexation request, adding that it makes “total sense.” But Facente said he believes that the proposed zoning is more than is needed at this time in the city.
The General Commercial designation doesn’t fit the area, he said, and instead of big steps, he urged city officials to take small steps toward zoning upgrades.
“You can always upgrade your zones and go bigger, but once you go big … you can’t back down from that,” Facente said on Aug.22.
As it is, Facente said there are already traffic problems at the junction of 500 West and Highway 191, and he is concerned about the potential impacts that more commercial traffic could have on 500 West.
“If you start pulling a lot of that commercial traffic down off 500 for a C-4 zone, I couldn’t even guess what congestion problems will be compounded over there,” he said.
When the time comes to vote, he urged the council to go for smaller zones that, in his words, fit the need for more local housing.
“Higher density is probably the way to go,” he said.
Shumway noted that the property is already commercial and industrial – and has been for decades. It would stay that way, she said, if it ultimately remained outside the city limits.
Oct. 10 meeting will address controversial annex, rezone of land off 500 West
Our property is commercial/industrial and we believe our request not only meets the needs and desires of the city but is also a charitable compromise for our community.