The San Juan portion of the Spanish Valley is approximately 6-miles long and 2.5-miles wide, encompassing 15-square miles of land. In comparison, the entire Spanish Valley is approximately 15-miles long and 3- miles wide. Only the southern third of the Spanish Valley lies within San Juan County, and it is the least populated segment. [San Juan County Spanish Valley Area Plan]

An attempt to put a set of ordinances passed by the San Juan County Commission onto the ballot has failed after the county-wide referendum effort did not collect the required number of signatures.

For the issue to have triggered a voter referendum, 1,168 San Juan County citizens would have had to sign the petition in opposition to a set of planning and zoning ordinances governing growth in the Spanish Valley area south of Moab.

On Feb. 10, San Juan County Clerk John David Nielsen reported that after all the signatures were verified, only 850 were recorded.

The ordinances were the result of a years-long project to address planning and growth in the Spanish Valley area, where zoning was increasingly outdated. In 2017, the county hired Landmark Design to prepare a plan to address zoning and development needs for the area, which was submitted and referred to the San Juan County Planning and Zoning Commission for review in September of 2019.

The draft plan met with opposition from the Planning and Zoning Commission, one member of which referred to the Landmark Design plans as “a lot of government overreach.” The Planning and Zoning group removed ordinances regulating outdoor lighting and signs, those regulating overnight accommodations and those protecting local streams and watersheds. Concerns about zoning maps that may split properties into part residential, part commercial were also voiced.

Spanish Valley residents upset by the cuts spoke during public comment at a Nov. 19 commission hearing to urge the San Juan Commission to approve the original plans and discard the edits to the ordinances.

Commissioners Ken Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes agreed that the Planning and Zoning Commission had gone too far in their edits. The commissioners voted to approve the original Landmark Design plans, allowing for some adjustments to the draft zoning maps concerning gravel pits. The vote was 2-1, with Commissioner Bruce Adams in opposition. The petition effort was launched after the vote.

San Juan County Commission meetings are held every first and third Tuesday of the month and are live-streamed on the San Juan County Commission YouTube page.