RD’s 2020-07-14 Moab City Council Preview

[Editor’s note: Both Rani Derasary and Mike Duncan have graciously agreed to let MADAR reuse their regular email updates to constituents. Despite the overlap, we are running both versions of the MCC previews. Readers can choose to read both, either or neither of the previews.]

What follows are the summary of items on our July 14 City Council meeting agenda and a few miscellaneous COVID-19 updates. FYI the July 14 meeting essentially has three items on it: a request for community gardening space on City property near Anonymous Park; a request for a pre-annexation agreement for property off 500W designating it C2 zone; and discussion about creating City policy related to a bike and scooter share permit program.

Tuesday, July 14 City Council meeting – 7:00pm, online only. As a reminder:

  • COVID-19 Updates – There are no pages in our packet for this item, but presumably City staff, the Mayor and/or Southeast Utah Health Department and Moab Regional Hospital staff will be offering an update with the latest information on the pandemic.
  • Open and Public Meetings Act (OPMA) Training – There are no pages on this in the packet, but Council members go through this training annually, so perhaps this is a reminder that we need to schedule, or will even feature the online training itself. FYI, some of us also serve on Special Service District boards in the community (eg Solid Waste District, Canyonlands Health Care, EMS…) and have already completed this training in 2020; so, we sometimes end up doing the training twice a year – once through the Council, and again via the County’s training for board members including OPMA and training from the State Auditor. 

New Business

Proposal to develop a Moab Community Garden at Anonymous Park This is covered on pages 27-37 of our packet and on the agenda as a “briefing and possible action.” After reading through it, it’s a bit unclear to me what the possible Council action is, as there is no recommended motion, so perhaps this is more an initial briefing; I have asked for clarification on this at our meeting Tuesday. The agenda summary and subsequent proposal from Moab Community Gardens (MoCom Gardens) explain the group’s desire to partner with the City to create at least 10 accessible community garden plots for local residents on 1/4 acre of City land near Anonymous Park, as well as a gardening space for the community at large, a tool shed, workbench and compost area. Pages 27-37 also explain: discussions staff and MoCom have been having about various location possibilities; plans for community engagement – particularly involvement of neighbors closest to the proposed location near Bartlett Circle; proposed timeline; project budget; MoCom Gardens’ request that the City provide the land free of charge and cover the cost of water line connection/development, as well as annual water usage. I assume there will be time Tuesday night for questions about this. FYI its inclusion in the packet is the first I have heard of it, and it would appear Council will need clarification on this, particularly given the Council’s June 9 request that staff return to us with a plan for how future proposals for changing uses on City property would be addressed, including process, and related public notification and participation. On the surface it seems this agenda item/proposal may have put the cart before the horse as we have not discussed that process yet, but perhaps this will be part of Tuesday’s presentation. 

Discussion of a potential pre-annexation agreement request for 10.02 acres located adjacent to the current City limits in the vicinity of 500 West by KM Real Estate Enterprises LLC and M Dean & Company, LLC (“Property Owner ”) This is on our agenda for “discussion only,” but the packet does indicate staff are looking for possible Council direction in how to proceed. Pages 38-111 explain the location of this property, on 500W just southwest of its intersection with N Highway 191 (near Denny’s). The owners are inquiring if the Council would support a Pre-Annexation Agreement essentially agreeing to annex this County property into the City under the City’s C2 Commercial Residential Zone “as a transition from the R-2 zoning to the south and the C-4 Zoning to the north.” The map on page 39 shows current adjacent City zoning. It’s my understanding the property is currently zoned Rural Residential (RR) in the County, as all current bordering County land is also RR. The agenda summary explains that if the City Council wants to move forward with the Pre-Annexation agreement, staff and the developer will draft one and return to Council with it. If the Council rather does not want to pursue a Pre-Annexation agreement, the applicant can instead choose to enter the annexation proposal process. That process allows the Planning Commission to recommend a zoning designation to the City Council, and the Council in turn to make the final zoning designation decision, should they decide to annex the property into the City. Please note that the agenda summary and many of the attachments address: a 2017 request to annex this property into the City under combined zoning of C4 and R4; subsequent changes in which UDOT now plans to purchase part of the property; current uses on the property; zone allowance comparisons; etc. 

Discussion of potential Ordinance 2020-13 creating the rules and regulations pertaining to the administration of bicycle and scooter share permit program – This is on our agenda for discussion only. The agenda summary on p 112 of our packet explains that while the City has yet to receive an application for someone wanting to start a bike/scooter share program in town, we would like to be proactive in being prepared for such submissions. I know I for one have read about the pros and cons of such programs across the US and internationally over the past many years, so it does seem prudent to have some policy in place. That said, I do find it odd that someone would want to apply for such a permit in Moab City, as the units aren’t to be used on sidewalks or highways (so I read that as riding on/across Main/191 being a no-no), and if these are e-scooters or e-bikes, they wouldn’t be permitted on the parkway as it’s for non-motorized transit. It also remains unclear to me if in Utah one is required to grant permits for such share ventures should they be requested, so that is one question I have posed about all this. It sounds like we will be spending some time Tuesday night to discuss what Council would like to see in draft policy so staff can move forward in shaping it. You can read the draft policy provided by staff on packet pages 113-122.

That’s it for our July 14 City Council meeting, except: aside from what’s listed above, the meeting will contain standard items such as: reports from Council, Mayor, City Manager and selected staff; approval of minutes – this time for June 9 (covered on pages 3-14 of our packet), June 23 (p 15-23) and June 25 (p24-26); Citizens to be Heard (please see above for how this works under electronic meetings – you can submit your comments on any topic); and payment of the bills. 

A few miscellaneous COVID-19 items

Local case count up to 26 – as of Sunday afternoon, the Southeast Utah Health Department (https://www.seuhealth.com/) is reporting we’ve had a total of 26 positive COVID-19 tests for folks living here, 8 of which are active. I see our neighbors in Carbon County are up to 21 cases total, 6 of which are active. And thanks ETV News whose article on the latest cases (https://etvnews.com/new-covid-19-cases-for-emery-grand-counties/) called my attention to this link I’d somehow been overlooking (https://www.seuhealth.com/case-breakdowns), that link will take you to some nifty graphs showing our 3 counties’ (Emery, Carbon, Grand) breakdown in COVID-19 cases by age and gender. If you didn’t already know, our cases across the 3 counties in the 25-44 age range are nearly triple the number of positive cases in next highest age segment (15-24 years), and likewise almost triple the total cases for folks 45-85+! For Grand County specifically, we have the most cases (17) for folks 25-44 years old; the next highest comes in at 3 cases in Grand County for folks 15-24. The breakdown page (https://www.seuhealth.com/case-breakdowns) also indicates how many men v women have tested positive in our region.

Added thanks to Times-Independent for helping more folks understand how positive COVID-19 tests are reported when visitors who test positive return to their homes outside Grand County to self-quarantine/get treatment. I’d added a link to Rachel Fixsen’s recent Sun News article on this in my last update, and thanks to Times-Independent Editor Doug McMurdo for subsequently letting me know “Not to toot our horn, but nobody ever would have learned about the non-counted positive tests if not for the adroit journalists at The Times-Independent.” Thank you independent journalists! Whether at the TI or Sun, we need you all more than ever, and I’m happy to toot your horn in applause and appreciation.

City COVID-19 guidelines for sports/rec spectators: In case you haven’t seen it, the City Sports and Recreation Facebook page shared this update on July 9: “The baseball season has kicked off this week and we are so thrilled to have this program up and running! We also have concessions this year, including food, snacks and snow cones! We have updated our website with the current COVID19 Guidelines for organized sports. Please take a look so that we can all participate safety in order to protect each other and our community. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we have been putting all of this together! A HUGE thank you to our coaches as well, we couldn’t do this without you!” Those referenced guidelines are here: https://moabrecreation.org/347/COVID19-Guidelines?fbclid=IwAR1ahTFnLL7URgclH80onhaNof7cd_O1AN_iU3itUL7uUTkeq5iEfxxoQaQ

As ever, my apologies should I have made any errors herein, and please let me know if I can offer any assistance.