At their regular Jan. 25 meeting, the Moab City Council passed a number of motions concerning a proposed development along Kane Creek Boulevard; returning funds dedicated to the Walnut Lane affordable housing project; and a location for new pickleball courts.
Kane Creek Boulevard development
Jacob Satterfield, a developer, recently bought a 9.98-acre property along Kane Creek Boulevard with the intention to build up a 161-unit housing development of townhomes and apartments at what would be 398 Kane Creek Blvd.
But the project has run into two notable snags: first, the area is zoned R-1—residential agricultural—which would allow a developer to only build around 60 units. Second, there is no city sewer in this area, meaning Satterfield would have to create a new project to hook into a main line, which he doesn’t have any official plans to yet.
Satterfield’s application to rezone the area to R-3—multi-household residential—was denied in May following a number of public comments that were against the development. The application returned to the city council at their Jan. 25 meeting with a change, asking that only 7.51 acres of the property be rezoned to R-3, and that the rest remain R-1.
The council considered approving the rezone with two conditions: first, if the development fails, the area will automatically return to its original zoning, and second, that the developer commits that at least 33% of the units are occupied by “Active Employment Households.” Active Employment Households are defined loosely as being a household where at least 50% of the residing adults are employed within Grand County.
Councilmember Rani Derasary had questions concerning what would happen if the developer was unable to find tenants or buyers who fit the active employment household criteria—the units would legally have to sit empty, according to an attorney at the meeting—and whether or not there were any loopholes in the agreement that would allow the developer to rent the property short-term—there were not.
“I’m not so concerned with the tools we use, I’m concerned with the outcome,” said Councilmember Tawny Knuteson Boyd. “I want to see houses built for this town. There’s very little chance these units will not fill up with people who can afford them…We need to stop dithering back and forth.”
Councilmember Kalen Jones agreed with Boyd–while the 33% number may not be perfect, at least it will guarantee housing for Moab residents and employees.
The motion passed 4-1, with Derasary dissenting. She made it clear she wanted to see more units devoted to active employment households.
At the previous city council meeting on Jan. 11, the council discussed the possibility of returning a $6.5 million Sales Tax Revenue Bond from Zions Bank, which had been intended to fund Phase 1 of the Walnut Lane affordable housing project. The project has had to return to the drawing board multiple times, and currently has no project manager or contracted construction and development company.
“With construction delays, with difficulties with contractors, there’s an unknown timeframe for spending these funds,” said Ben Billingsley, finance director. Due to interest rates, the city could lose money on the bond if they don’t spend it by the summer.
Billingsley noted that Phase 1 of the project could be funded through other sources and suggested that the council return the bond.
“I think there’s a lot of emotion tied to this project in the city, and I think it’s important to remember that returning the bond proceeds certainly is not ringing the death knell of the project,” he said.
“It’s a little disappointing to take this step, for sure,” Jones said, “but ultimately, what matters is that we take the most fiscally prudent path, which optimizes our path for success in building housing units, regardless of short-term perceptions.”
The motion to return the bond passed unanimously.
New location for pickleball courts
The city council, in conjunction with the parks and recreation department, chose a location for new pickleball courts: Old City Park.
“Having pickleball courts in Moab would truly be an asset here,” said Rick Davidson, a local enthusiast of the sport, at a public hearing for the new court locations. “For all of us that are playing here, we’re very excited about the prospect of it.”
A year ago, the parks and recreation department received a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is run by the National Park Service. The grant funds came with a few requirements that meant the new courts would have to be on city property and would have to be permanent.
The choice of location came down to residential impact—pickleball “can get quite noisy,” Davidson said. Courts at Old City Park were judged to have lower impact than at Swanny City Park, another proposed location.
The motion to pursue construction of the courts at Old City Park passed unanimously. For the next steps, the site will be designed with a detailed cost breakdown and will go through a National Environmental Policy Act review process, which will conduct environmental, archaeological and environmental justice reviews of the site.
The Moab City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Meetings are streamed online at the Moab City Youtube channel. Schedules, agendas and opportunities for public comment can be found at www.moabcity.org