Council Discusses ADUs and Infrastructure Updates: Notes from Moab City Council Meeting November 9 | New


At its regular city council meeting on November 9, Moab City Council discussed and voted on a myriad of infrastructure updates, including sewers, Mill Creek Canyon, and Pack Creek Bridge. The city also discussed updates to its water conservation plan, which is due to the state by the end of the year. [See full coverage on the front page of this edition. -ed.]

Accessory housing units

The term “secondary housing” or “ADU” refers to small independent living spaces on the same land as a single-family house, such as the mother-in-law’s buildings, basement apartments or a studio above the garage. . The structures can be attached to the house or be a separate structure but use the existing infrastructure, such as water and sewerage, of the house.

As Moab suffers from a housing shortage, in October, Moab Planning Director Nora Shepard introduced an ordinance “amending the text of the Moab municipal code to allow secondary suites in all residential areas.” . Moab has not updated its ADU code since 2018; since then the Utah state legislature has passed Bill 82 to allow more internal ADUs in single-family homes and add enforcement provisions to ensure that internal ADUs are not used for short term rental.

This ordinance aims to remove barriers that prevent more residents from building ADUs and encourage residents to build ADUs with the aim of creating more housing for the workforce. Shepard pointed to a handful of other communities in Utah and Colorado that successfully use ADUs for workforce housing, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Durango, Crested Butte, and St. George.

City council discussed their outstanding questions regarding the ordinance – regarding whether the owner of the primary residence should live on site, minimum rental periods and enforcement – during a workshop on November 9 . At the workshop, the council decided that the document with the new regulations should be subject to legal review. At the regular city council meeting on November 9, council voted unanimously to postpone the ordinance until the next meeting on December 14, the last city council meeting of the year.

Sewer tariffs

The city of Moab has 140,244 feet of sanitary sewer lines that wind beneath the city. According to city engineer Chuck Williams, 32% of these pipes are between 50 and 60 years old and 29% are over 60 years old. The system is in need of repair, and in the past three years since the adoption of the Moab Sanitary Sewer Master Plan in 2018, there has not been enough funds generated to meet these repair needs.

The city is increasing sewer rates to make up for the deficit. The monthly sewage rate for a single family home in Moab is currently $ 21.60. In October, the board decided to go ahead with two options to increase rates: Option A would increase rates to $ 42.79; Option B would increase the rates to $ 35.54. Both options would increase rates over a six-year period.

Board member Rani Derasary asked about the deterioration of the pipes and whether the board should be concerned about having to raise tariffs again in the future because the pipes are even worse.

“We’re going to end up replacing the whole system over time,” said Chuck Williams, city engineer. “I think after ten years people will have to re-evaluate the tariffs.”

The board voted 4-1 to implement Option A, with board member Mike Duncan dissenting. Duncan has indicated that he prefers Option B. Next year, the monthly sewer rate for a single-family home will increase to $ 27 and increase each year to reach $ 42.79 in 2028.

Mill Creek Recommendations

Mill Creek Canyon is a popular recreation area, especially in the summer, as it provides a place to swim just outside of town. Mill Creek Canyon is unique, according to Kara Dohrenwend, who worked on the Mill Creek Canyon collaboration, in that the canyon trailhead is located in a residential area. When the trailhead parking lot fills up, the neighborhood becomes the overflow lot.

The MCCC was formed to identify the impacts of footfall on the canyon and find viable solutions for it. In June 2021, the collaboration presented a set of recommendations to the city that were decided after years of research and two community surveys.

At the November 9 city council meeting, the MCCC asked the city council to sign a letter to the Bureau of Land Management supporting its recommendation. Grand County recently considered similar letters to the BLM, but decided to bring the matter up for further consideration in light of stakeholder disagreements over some of the recommendations. [See “Managing Mill Creek,” Nov. 4 edition. -ed.]

Stakeholders, including Moab Solutions, a non-profit organization focused on public lands and environmental stewardship; Ride With Respect, an off-road environmental group; and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office voted against a proposal to relocate the main parking lot serving Mill Creek Canyon from Powerhouse Lane to Potato Salad Hill, accessible from Sand Flats Road. Moab Solutions created its own plan, called Alternative A +, which it asked city council to recommend to BLM as well.

Dohrenwend urged the commission to support the work being done by the MCCC. Moab Solutions’ alternative proposal could be addressed during the BLM process, she said, “rather than being seen as equal to a set of recommendations developed with broad and widespread public input over a series of years “.

Council member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd noted that the council asks community members to sit on councils like the MCCC, and if the council “at the 11th hour rejects their work because there is a dissenting voice or two, we really risk damaging those relationships. “

The board voted unanimously to send the letter supporting the MCCC’s recommendations to the BLM.

Pack Creek Bridge Widening Agreement

The council unanimously approved an agreement with the Utah Department of Transportation to proceed with a bridge widening project. The project will replace the failing steel walkway on the 400 East Bridge over Pack Creek and widen the east side of the bridge to accommodate pedestrians and bike paths.

The bridge was originally built in the 1970s and therefore has no cycling infrastructure, said Chuck Williams, city engineer. But now Moab is “a community of cyclists,” he said. Five of the city’s six bridges are too narrow for full-width bike lanes (five-foot lanes) – this project would reduce that number to four.

The project is estimated at $ 740,000 with a cost sharing of fifty-fifty between the city and UDOT, and the city’s share is budgeted for this fiscal year.

Moab City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are streamed online on the City of Moab Youtube channel. Timetables, agendas and opportunities for public comment can be found at


Wiley C. Thompson

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