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Moab Changes Commercial Lodging Development Code To Mixed Use

Moab Municipal

Just like Summit and Wasatch Counties, Moab is experiencing growth and infrastructure challenges. In February, the city put a six-month hotel development moratorium in place. The action sparked some controversy with developers and landowners.

Emily Neihaus says the recent Salt Lake Tribune article stating she was summoned to Salt Lake City to meet with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Senate President, Stuart Adams was over dramatized.

“We in Moab are trying to get organized. We have, in our commercial zone, allowed overnight accommodations pretty much all throughout our commercial zone and when you have hotels as your highest use, the other commercial uses take second seat.  And so, what we’re trying to do with our actions is, try to encourage diversification. But also, we’re not saying no to new hotel development, we’re saying how can we mix those uses together.”

She explained that the commercial development code was rewritten, and the moratorium put in place in February has been lifted. Now they’re working with planning to implement the new mixed-use commercial code. Neidhaus says they’ve received a lot of support.

“…our legislators, from the governor’s office, from local developers, I think we’re all on board in making sure that we’re accommodating for a wide variety of commercial use."

Niehaus says big holiday weekends can be very busy with no vacancy signs at hotels, traffic congestion, and long lines to get into Arches National Park. But she says it is a myth that Moab is full to the brim.

“There’s still capacity in our accommodation sector with restaurants, with waiting in line to get into Arches. There are critical times where it’s very busy but there is still a lot of beautiful, solitude and room for people to come and enjoy Moab”

She says nightly rental restrictions are tightly enforced in residential zones.

“So, we definitely support the overnight accommodations that are legal, that are paying their taxes and that are supporting visitors when they come to stay in Moab. So, we have not had the Airbnb battle. Now if we are not given the opportunity to enforce that, then Moab’s going to have a big voice in that fight.”

Niehaus says Moab’s challenges are unique because they’re isolated, and the closest big store is two or three hours away. But she says at the same time, it makes it a desirable place for recreation and visitors.    

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