MD’s Moab City Council Preview 2021-11-09

[Editor’s note: Both Mike Duncan and Rani Derasary 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.]

City Council Preview 9 Nov 2021. These Meetings Will Be Held Electronically using Zoom with An Anchor Location at City Council Chambers. Council Members And The Public Are Encouraged To Participate Remotely Due To High Transmission Status And Lack Of ICU Bed Availability. Masks And Social Distancing Are Required For In-Person Attendance.

You can write City Council (anytime, on any subject):

Pre-Council Workshop: 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. 

Accessory Dwelling Units in All Residential Zones  – Nora Shepard, Planning Director. The city is considering revising ADU requirements that increase density in a variety of ways (for example, smaller setbacks) in order to alleviate Moab’s affordable housing problem. At the last meeting a number of details and sometimes differing opinions were discussed. This workshop will attempt to come to consensus in order to produce a draft revision to existing ADU code. I believe the intent is that a public hearing will follow later this evening, even if it may have been inadvertently omitted from the agenda. If so, it will garner residents’ opinions and may result in still further amendments.

You may use the City’s youtube channel to listen to this part of tonight’s meetings. You can see and hear (but not talk to) them using: Also, in the Public Hearing portion of the regular meeting to follow, you can comment via Zoom as described below.

Regular session starts at 7 PM

I have not included non-controversial agenda items here. Please see the full agenda at for full details.

Public Hearings: 1) Sanitary Sewer Rates; 2) Draft Water Conservation Plan Update. There are two public hearings on subjects previously discussed by Council.

  • The first is Sewer Rates, unfortunately about to go up again due to the absence of new Overnight Accommodations (removed from commercial zones since 2019), the loss of their impact fee revenue (and more happily, subsequent expenses of adding them to the city’s water system), Covid-related slower-than-expected growth (for example Lionsback and USU) and higher than expected inflationary expenses. There are three options on the table reflecting high, medium and low rate increases with corresponding delays in new sewer infrastructure construction and an ability to pay off bond re-payments. Defaulting on the bond is not an option.
  • The Draft Water Conservation plan is a state-required document showing a path to less water use per capita in the next decade or so. Moab is in relatively good shape to meet this requirement in part due to our switch to a new Waste Water Reclamation Facility which uses less water (but more electricity) than did the old plant taken out of service a few years ago.

You may participate in these two public hearings: Public comments may be made in person, by phone, or online through Zoom as described below. You may also have your written comments on these subjects considered for the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the electronic meeting as described below.

Citizens to be Heard. Citizens to be heard comments may be made in person, by phone, or online through Zoom. Citizens are limited to two (2) minutes for comments. To participate in person, accommodations will be made in the Moab City Council Chambers. To participate by phone or online through Zoom, please use the following links: Dial: 669-900-9128     Meeting ID:  843 8167 6239    Passcode (if needed):  938993  Link: Please note that when joining the meeting, you will be placed in a waiting room and will be added to the meeting by the moderator. Your comments will be recorded and on YouTube. To have your written comments considered for the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the electronic meeting, please fill out the form found here: You must submit your comments by 7:00 PM on the date of the meeting. Please limit your comments to 400 words.

Acting City Manager Updates – Carly Castle.

UDOT  dialogue and upcoming rural meeting – Chuck Williams, chief engineer.

Mayor and Council Reports:

Accessory Dwelling Units in All Residential Zones  – Nora Shepard, Planning Director. Nora has simplified and made these amendments much easier to read at the suggestions of several Council members. These amendments apply to both so-called “Internal” (a group of rooms within a primary dwelling) and “External” ADU’s (a structure detached from the primary dwelling with a group of rooms). She has added RA-1 (the lowest density, quasi-agricultural zone) to the other residential zones R-1, R-2, R-3 and R-4 to which these amendments apply. Owner-occupancy of primary structure, minimum rent/lease time limits (short term rentals are illegal in any case), who is a “family member,” does a “retiree” qualify, deed restrictions and who enforces them, licensing (particularly if primary residence is not owner-occupied), water/sewer hookup extensions and taxes are all subjects for discussion. These are all interesting trades between affordability for workforce housing (which indisputably the town needs) and density, which neighbors may dislike. My experience has been that most folks build something reasonable, but some will push the limits on height and setbacks resulting in friction with neighbors. If we arrive at consensus on ADU code amendments, we may vote on them. I think you can appreciate how trying to do something worthwhile (affordable workforce housing) runs into complications.

Sewer rates – Chuck Williams, chief engineer and Ben Billingsley, finance director. At the last Council meeting, staff, a consultant and a bank presented evidence of a long-term shortfall of revenue to cover expenses for several reasons. Three scenarios were presented to rectify the imbalance. The first (option A) provided the most generous additional revenue which permits needed infrastructure projects to proceed. The second (option B) is a smaller increase made possible only by delaying certain infrastructure projects. The third, which is no longer under consideration since Council considers it fiscally irresponsible, was a bare-bones increase in rates made possible only by further project delays and a minimum margin in bond repayment. Ben will present slides showing financial constraints and Chuck will present slides showing why an investment in replacement infrastructure is needed. We likely will vote on this matter at this meeting.

Water Conservation Plan Update – Mila Dunbar-Irwin, Sustainability director. This is the last chance for Council to amend this plan, required by the state by the end of 2021. Our per capita water consumption actually went down in the last decade or so even if no one seems sure why, but probably due to a decrease in water consumption with the new sewer plant.

Mill Creek Recommendations to the BLM from the City of Moab – Karen Guzman-Newton. Over the past several years, more than 21 community stakeholders representing local government, non-profits, and neighborhoods to trailheads near Mill Creek Canyon have engaged in a collaborative facilitation to discuss impacts of increased visitation at Mill Creek Canyon. This group has used this discussion to prepare a number of recommendations for the Bureau of Land Management, the City of Moab, and Grand County to adopt. In June 2021, the Collaborative provided the City Council with a presentation that explained the various recommendations during a joint meeting with the Grand County. This letter endorses these recommendations to the BLM for implementation.

Discussion and direction on Pickleball Courts. I’ve no idea what’s going down; stay tuned.

Pack Creek Bridge Widening Agreement with UDOT – Chuck Williams, chief engineer; and Pack Creek Bridge Widening Project Task Order with Civil Science, Inc. The east side of the 400 East Bridge over Pack Creek will be widened to accommodate pedestrians (in lieu of the existing failing steel walkway) and provide additional roadway width to accommodate 5-ft bike lanes on each side of the bridge. Initially, the project concept included adding another girder and widening the west side as well, but was dropped from the project as being cost prohibitive. This project was ranked the tenth highest prioritized project on the City’s adopted capital improvement projects list. The final project scope as proposed is estimated to cost $740,000, with a fifty-fifty cost share between the City and UDOT. The City’s share is budgeted this Fiscal Year. T. Staff selected Civil Science, Inc. (CSI) to design the project since they did the original evaluation of the bridge for the Grant application.

Hope this helps,

Mike Duncan, City Council member