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City council rejects proposal to rezone Williams Way property for commercial use

Posted by Moab Premier Properties on March 29, 2011
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Citing concerns about a lack of affordable housing, the Moab City Council on Tuesday rejected Red Rock Partners’ request to rezone a five-acre parcel near downtown that currently houses a mobile home park. Red Rock requested that the land, located at Williams Way and 100 West, be rezoned as commercial property so it could be developed as a resort community.

The lone vote in favor came from council member Jeffrey Davis, who voted against the zone change when the measure was first introduced two years ago. During the discussion, Davis said that Moab’s economic circumstances had inspired him to change his mind.

“A couple years ago, times were different,” Davis said. “At the time, I felt the zoning was appropriate and needed to stay. At this time, with the hospital being built and other businesses opening in the area, I feel the city needs more commercial space to help our finances. If we’re not going to be doing any major diversifying of our economy, then we need to look for what we can do.”

Several council members voiced concern over the loss of residential zones. The measure would have changed the parcel’s zoning from R-4, meant primarily for manufactured homes and other high-density housing, to C-3, where residential units aren’t allowed on the ground level. Council member Sarah Bauman said that Moab “[doesn’t] really have any alternative affordable housing.”

“When we turned down the application two years ago, we were trying to preserve residential housing… to enable people to walk to the city from their homes” Bauman said. “Those conditions still exist today.”

Red Rock Partners has said it will close the mobile home park regardless of the council’s decision. In 2008, residents of the park were given a nine-month notice to vacate. While plans to empty the park were eventually put on hold, residents have been renting there on a month-to-month basis since that time. According to Moab City Manager Donna Metzler, the developer doesn’t have to give residents a second notice before forcing them to move out.

Prior to the vote, Moab City Planner Jeff Reinhart gave a presentation to the council on the history of the parcel’s zoning, using hand-drawn charts dating back as far as 1954 and a photographic view of the streets surrounding the parcel, cobbled together from dozens of digital pictures. According to Reinhart, part of the parcel in question is, in fact, an unused right-of-way that belongs to the city. The right-of-way had been slated for development as a road, but the project was canceled, and the right-of-way was never vacated by the city, he said.

A few dozen Moab residents attended the meeting, with most of them leaving immediately after the council voted to reject the zone change. One man turned around to rebuke the council as he was walking out the door.

“The recession’s hurting people. We need jobs,” he said. “I think you guys made the wrong decision.”

– Moab Times-Independent