The striped area in this image from the City of Moab shows a 1.14-acre property for sale on Kane Creek Boulevard that is the subject of an application for re-zoning from RA1 residential/agricultural property to C1 commercial. [Image courtesy of the City of Moab]

What’s the future of Kane Creek Boulevard?

Kane Creek Boulevard hasn’t been re-paved by the city or county in over a decade, but the aged infrastructure was not mentioned during a meeting by people who say they would like to see a parcel of land abutting the road re-zoned from residential/agriculture to commercial/residential. The parcel’s commercial re-zone would allow for a bed-and-breakfast, retail, restaurant or any other use permitted in the zone.

The parcel of land on 1.14-acres at 778 Kane Creek Blvd. is owned by Keith R. Herrmann. It is currently zoned residential/agriculture and is on the market with a listed sale price of $1.75 million. Whether to allow the parcel to be re-zoned to commercial was a topic of discussion at the Moab city council meeting on Tuesday, March 26.

The Moab City Council ultimately passed a motion to table making a decision on the re-zone and will re-visit the issue in two weeks at its next regular meeting with the anticipation of making a formal decision.

“The parcel is where the Adobe Abode is and has historically been a bed-and-breakfast, but it has not been in operation for a little over a year,” said Moab City Manager David Everitt.

“The planning commission debated on this for quite a while,” Everitt continued. “I think the only reason there was a dissenting vote was there was one commission (member) who was concerned about the notion of feeling it’s a little bit of a ‘spot zone,’ and while it’s not necessarily illegal, it’s not necessarily the best practice; but the rest of the commission felt that that did not outweigh the value that a re-zone would bring to this parcel, and I guess to the city as a whole.”

The surrounding acres around the Adobe Abode parcel are currently zoned RA1, residential/agriculture.

Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus called for a discussion on the issue by council members and asked if anyone felt strongly about it.

“I’m a little uncomfortable, I’m a lot uncomfortable, making a decision on an overnight rental while we still have a moratorium,” said council member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd. In February, the city placed a temporary 180-day moratorium on the development of new overnight accommodations.

Everitt pointed out that the issue before the council is for re-zoning of the parcel of land, not for permitting an overnight rental.

“I know, but we’re still making a decision on an overnight rental, and depending on what comes back from the city in July or August (when the moratorium ends), I’m just feeling uncomfortable,” Knuteson-Boyd said.

“Bed-and-breakfasts are no longer allowed in this zone that we’re changing the zone to be,” Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus said.

Moab City Attorney Chris McAnany interjected that although new bed-and-breakfasts are not allowed, changing the zoning designation for the parcel would mean that bed-and-breakfasts and “everything that is now permitted in that parcel becomes a use-by-right in that zoning district” — it would be “grandfathered in.”

“It’s an opportunity not to have a hotel,” said council member Karen Guzman-Newton.

“Additionally, the owner of that property could do a small retail establishment,” Niehaus said.

“There are a range of uses in that particular zone,” McAnany said.

“For what it’s worth, the planning commission recognized that and found that to be a plus for thinking about this in terms of the re-zone” Everitt said, adding that there could potentially be “low-intensity retail commercial uses in that spot given the lack, or the need for that, in town.”

It was not discussed during the meeting that the property is currently listed for sale at $1.75 million and whether or not there are any interested buyers who may like to see the zoning changed.

McAnany said the city needs to consider several factors in approving the re-zone, such as, if it will be compatible with the surrounding area, whether there is a need for the re-zone and if the community will derive any benefit by approving the proposed zoning.

“And, also… having adequate facilities available for the type of development that would be allowed by the proposed zone and classification, etc.,” McAnany said.

“There’s not a moratorium on zone change,” said council member Kalen Jones. “Regardless of the moratorium, people can apply for zone changes.”

Jones said he lives near the parcel in question, and has felt that it has fit in with the character of the surrounding area operating as a bed-and-breakfast in the past. He said the notion that the property could attract increased ATV traffic and noise is not applicable to this parcel because “Kane Creek is already overrun with them.”

“I’ve heard of the fandango that it could be noisier, but that’s neither here nor there,” Jones said. “I feel like the argument that we need more C1 and therefore it should be approved is a little weak because … I feel like that should be approached by the future land-use planning process as opposed to this … it’s not part of the coherent plan, it just happens one property owner has a particular goal, which is being able to run or sell their property, I imagine as it was designed and operated in the past.”

Council member Mike Duncan said “it’s not at all clear” the zoning change is in the best interest of the community, with its only “saving grace” being that is has operated as a bed-and-breakfast in the past.

Duncan moved to table making a decision on the zone change, but the motion failed.

“It’s a big ready-to-go bed-and-breakfast, it’s been operating that way, it makes sense to allow that use to continue,” Niehaus said. “However, we are under such a microscope in this moratorium. It’s very difficult because of timing to be placed in a position to be asked for a zone change which would allow nightly rental where they’re currently not allowed, so that is the crux.”

When someone commented that the change to C1 zoning could allow for the property owners to create transitional single-family housing, Duncan dramatically widened his eyes and pointed out that that is not the intention of the property owner.

Moab’s assistant city manager, Joel Linares, said the property owner had filed their application for the re-zone on Feb. 4, before the city passed the moratorium.

“If I had two more weeks (to think about the motion), I would probably feel more comfortable,” Knuteson-Boyd said.

“This could be a planning focus for us,” Niehaus said. “If we do approve the zone change to a C1, then it would be interesting to consider, along the Kane Creek corridor, what it would look like to have restaurants and little shops and bed-and-breakfasts and some commercial along that corridor.”

Council member Rani Derasary said the RA1 zone along Kane Creek Boulevard is currently characterized by agriculture and activity for farming operations and “it is intended that the land within this zone shall be further developed into a residential environment exclusive of animals and fowl … intended to move into more residential development.”

A motion, made by Knuteson-Boyd and seconded by Derasary, was passed to re-visit the issue at the next meeting.

Owner of property on market for $1.75M requests commercial zoning

“If we do approve the zone change to a C1, then it would be interesting to consider, along the Kane Creek corridor, what it would look like to have restaurants and little shops and bed-and-breakfasts and some commercial along that corridor.”