The city’s proposed ordinance that would require new developments in R3 and R4 (multi-household and manufactured housing residential) zones to devote a percentage of units to housing local employees is moving forward. The city hopes to finalize the ordinance by March 31.

On March 8, the council heard from representatives at BAE urban economics, an economics and real estate consulting company, on how the city should calculate a percentage. The calculation was based on factors including existing development, remaining capacity within those developments, and workers per household. At the March 22 meeting, Aaron Nousain, an associate principal at BAE, returned to the council meeting with updated calculations.

When looking at potential residential buildout, BAE found that if the city wanted to maintain the current share of the workforce living within the City of Moab, estimated at 46%, it would need to set aside at least 15% of the total remaining residential buildout capacity within the R3 and R4 zones. If the council decided they wanted more of the workforce living in Moab, the percentage of units to set aside would have to be higher.

One of the trickiest aspects of passing this ordinance is its legality. The ordinance has to be careful in defining its requirements as use parameters, and there must be significant evidence that the use is needed, according to Nate Mitchell, who works at Snow Christensen & Martineau law firm.

“Even if that percentage is defendable, we need to make sure that developers can work within those numbers to make those projects work,” said Councilmember Jason Taylor. “That’s my concern, is that no matter what that number is, that we could, in some ways, squash development altogether because developers just walk away.”

There’s no language in the ordinance about rental costs, said Planning and Zoning Administrator Cory Shurtleff: Since developers have to occupy those units with active employment households, developers will likely have to rent the units for less than the market price.

The planning commission will draft its recommendations for the ordinance on Tuesday, March 29. It will appear before the city council at a special meeting on Thursday, March 31, for approval.