RD’s Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-11-09

[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.]

A summary of what’s on the agenda follows, plus some random items, from COVID-19 vaccine for 5-11-year-olds, some Q&A on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and a Unified Transportation Master Plan meeting of note.

Tuesday, November 9 City Council meeting – 1:00-3:00pm workshop + 7:00pm main meeting (online meeting, but you can go to City Hall – see below). Please note that this meeting will be held “electronically with an anchor location” of City Hall (City Council Chambers, 217 E Center Street). What does that mean? Council members and the public are being encouraged to participate online due to our community’s current COVID-19 High Transmission status, as well as the lack of ICU (intensive care unit) hospital beds in our region. You are thus welcome to follow the meeting online – live (or after the fact) – on the City’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/MoabCityGovernment. You may also come to the “anchor location” (City Hall) in person, where masks and social distancing will be required; please note that some, if not the majority, of participants may be online though. The 289-page packet for November 9 can be found here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11092021-1085?packet=true. If you prefer the 5-page agenda only, with links to packet parts, that is here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11092021-1085. Here is a breakdown of what’s on the November 9 agenda:


The November 9 agenda workshop is on this single topic: Proposed Ordinance 2021-16: an ordinance amending the text of the Moab Municipal Code (MMC) to allow ADUs in all residential Zones subject to a revised Section 17.70 Accessory Dwelling Units and Section 17.06.020 Definitions. Please note that this item is on our agenda in this workshop slot for discussion only; however, the item is on our November 9 agenda again in the evening for a briefing and possible action. As a reminder, we first discussed this item at our October 12 Council meeting, where we tabled it for two weeks to allow staff the time to incorporate Council input, and to allow Council time to ask additional questions. (You can listen to the October 12 discussion here: go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxgAWuyVGAo, then scroll to the 1:35:36 mark – ie the 1-hour, 35-minute, 36-second mark.)

  • Our October 26 packet noted that questions and suggested changes made by Council on October 12 included: whether a home adding an internal ADU needs to be occupied by the homeowner, or can be someone’s second home; what the minimum amount of time an ADU can be rented for should be (ie 31 days, so as not to be a “short-term rental,” or as long as 180 days); to what extent retirees and family members can live in ADUs; having no minimum size for an ADU; and whether to allow an ADU on a property that already has a duplex on it. At the October 26 meeting, it became clear Council needed more time to delve into these and additional questions. So, this November 9 workshop was set up to allow that discussion. (You can listen to our October 26 deliberations here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ELE-YxJcmo – scroll to the 1:15:15 mark, – ie the 1-hour, 15-minute, 15-second mark.) Please see the agenda summary in our November 9 packet (pages 6-9, which are apparently duplicated on pages 103-106) for a description of areas still needing Council clarification and direction. In a nutshell, from what was raised October 26 and what’s in the November 9 agenda summary, areas with remaining questions appear to include: setbacks; whether the owner of the primary residence needs to live on site; minimal rental period (eg: 90 days, more? less? would month-to-month rental be allowed after an initial 90 days?); how to define “family” and “retiree” (eg could any retiree rent an ADU, or just folks who’d lived and worked in Moab prior to retirement?); licensing, registration and enforcement (related staffing/funding, plus state restrictions on stopping illegal short-term rentals); how to get ADU builders timely information about related infrastructure and tax costs if any, etc. For details on what some other communities in Utah and Colorado are doing in terms of owner occupation, licensing, number of ADUs per lot, and lot size, see November 9 packet pages 57-62 (duplicated on pages 154-159). The text of the latest draft ordinance is on pages 10-18 (duplicated on pages 107-115).
  • In case you need a reminder of why this ordinance came about, two things prompted it: 1) the State Legislature passed a bill in 2021 called HB82 that requires all Utah communities to conform to certain bill details surrounding allowance and regulation of “Internal Accessory Dwelling Units” (IADUs). You can read the full text of HB 82 on November 9 packet pages 19-56 (duplicated on pages 116-153) . The term accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is often used as a synonym for a mother-in-law apartment or cottage. HB82 only deals with “internal” ADUs – ie, ones built inside the walls of a lot’s primary dwelling; as opposed to “external” ADUs (EADUs) – ie, ones built outside the walls of a lot’s primary dwelling. HB82 only allows us to regulate certain aspects of IADUs, so some of the changes to our code in Ordinance 2021-16 capture those related abilities we will -or won’t- have moving forward. 2) The second thing that prompted Ordinance 2021-16 is that the City of Moab hasn’t updated its ADU code since 2018. Staff and the Planning Commission identified code changes we could make to remove barriers that appear to be preventing more residents from building ADUs as affordable housing units for local employees. FYI, ADUs are currently permitted in all of the City’s residential zones.


Public Hearings. Two topics will have public hearings on November 9. You are invited to comment on one or both on November 9 on Zoom or by phone, or in person at City Hall, by following the instructions on pages 1-2 of our agenda here: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11092021-1085. I’d suggest coming or calling/Zooming in at 7:00pm, as the public hearings are the first item on the agenda. Should you prefer to submit up to 400 words of written comments, you may do so up until 7:00pm, November 9, using this public hearing comment form link: https://bit.ly/publiccommentform.
The topics of our 2 public hearings are: 1) Proposed Ordinance 2021-19: an ordinance amending Moab Municipal Code 3.50.100 Sanitary Sewer Rates of the Master Fee Schedule;  2) Draft Water Conservation Plan Update. Both of these items also come up later in our meeting for possible action. Please scroll down in this email to read details about them, and get to related packet pages.

Citizens to be Heard (CTBH) You are welcome to Zoom or phone in to our November 9 meeting – or come to City Hall in person – to comment on any topic other than the two public hearing items noted above. Please follow the CTBH instructions on pages 2-3 of our agenda to do that: https://moabcity.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_11092021-1085. If you do plan to call or zoom in, or come in person. I’d plan on doing that at 7:00pm; there is another item before CTBH (public hearings), but if few people come to speak to that, you’ll be up quickly! If you’d prefer to submit written comments for CTBH, please fill out the form found here prior to 7:00pm on November 9: https://bit.ly/citizenstobeheard. Please limit written comments to 400 words.

Administrative Reports. I usually just note the departments that will be reporting at the bottom of my email, but since transportation is mentioned, and I know that interests several of you, I thought I’d note it here. After updates from the Acting City Manager, the agenda notes we will “discuss upcoming UDOT meeting and rural dialogue.”

  • There are no pages in the packet about this, but my understanding is that we’ll figure out who from the City will attend the UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) Emerging Area Rural Dialogue on November 19. Per an invite I received, among other things, this meeting “will provide the opportunity to: Listen to community needs related to the role of transportation in health, economy, mobility and connected communities; Build on relationships between rural community leaders and UDOT; and Identify transportation ideas in emerging areas and connect communities to the statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan.”

Proposed Ordinance 2021-16: an ordinance amending the text of the Moab Municipal Code (MMC) to allow ADUs in all residential Zones subject to a revised Section 17.70 Accessory Dwelling Units and Section 17.06.020 Definitions As you may recall, this item was the subject of the 1:00-3:00pm workshop earlier on November 9. At this point in our evening agenda, it’s back for a briefing and possible vote on Ordinance 2021-16. I’m guessing our workshop will determine if this item needs more research, or if we feel ready to vote on November 9. Please scroll back up to the workshop section of this email for a detailed discussion of this item. 

Proposed Ordinance 2021-19: an ordinance amending Moab Municipal Code 3.50.100 Sanitary Sewer Rates. This item is one of the two topics that has a public hearing earlier on our November 9 agenda. We return to this ordinance at this point in the agenda for briefing and possible action.

  • If you’ve been following recent meetings, you know that Council initially discussed this item in an October 12 workshop (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07znqqRsBG0). The presentation October 12 introduced a sewer rate study undertaken to help identify rate structures that will allow revenues to meet expenses over the coming years.
  • Three options were presented to us October 12, each allowing us to accomplish a different level of capital projects through 2028, with bonding (“Options A, B and C”). On October 26, staff, plus representatives from Zions Bank and City consultant Bowen Collins and Associates, reviewed the three options before Council, and introduced some additional slides to the slide deck we saw October 12. On the 26th, Council had little appetite for Option C, given how little it would accomplish, so our November 9 public hearing and later discussion will focus on Options A and B. (You can listen to our October 26 meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ELE-YxJcmo – scroll to 1:50:53 mark, – ie the 1-hour, 50-minute, 53-second mark.
  • The October 26 discussion covered interesting elements such as: how our rates fit in with Department of Environmental Quality “affordable” sewer rates (as related to Modified Adjusted Gross Income); our rates compared to Grand Water & Sewer’s rates, and the rates of other communities across Utah;  how much cash on hand we would have, and what our debt service coverage ratios would be, under the different options (this matters for bonding); that churches and schools will remain on the winter residential calculation they’re currently on (there had been some discussion in the past of perhaps creating a separate institutional rate for them, but that won’t happen); and an overview of our objectives in revamping rates.)
  • And that brings us to November 9’s packet: there is a brief agenda on page 160; the draft ordinance that would adopt one of the options before us is on page 161 (and duplicated on page 63); you can look at how base and volume sanitary sewer rates would change (from current 2021 rates) between 2022 and 2028 in Option A versus Option B on pages 162-162 (duplicated on pages 64-65); the slides from October 12, with some extras added October 26, are on pages 165-203; and finally, you can also look over the City’s current Master Fee Schedule on pages 204-218. 
  • In addition, here’s the background refresher on how we got here:the City’s Sanitary Sewer Master Plan was adopted in 2018, identifying capital and maintenance needs for the sanitary sewer system, as well as projecting revenue needs for the next 10 years – given assumptions at the time about population growth, zoning and income from sewer ratepayers and impact fees. Since the Plan’s adoption in 2018, a few changes have resulted in us generating less revenue than we’d expected to be making come 2021. Those changes center around: 1) our putting the overnight accommodations (OAs) moratorium in place in 2019, allowing no new hotels or other overnight rentals in City limits. (Only those already vested to build in 2019 have been allowed to move forward since then. Not allowing additional OAs made many residents happy, but has decreased the impact fee revenue that was projected back in 2018.); 2) slower growth than projected back in 2018, with projects like construction of the Utah State University campus happening more slowly than anticipated three years ago; and 3) higher inflation than projected back in 2018, which has resulted in higher costs.  

Draft Water Conservation Plan Update. As a reminder, this item is one of the two that appeared earlier as a public hearing item. It’s on our agenda again at this point in the meeting for discussion and direction. The agenda summary on page 219 explains that the City must submit this update to the State of Utah by the end of 2021. The State Water Conservation Plan Act requires that we produce a water conservation plan every five years, and our last plan was produced in 2016. (Many parts of these plans are required by the State, and back when we discussed the update in July, staff were most interested in feedback on the Water Conservation section.) Council have been informed this is our last opportunity to suggest edits before the final version of the Plan Update comes before us for a vote on December 14. You can read the full draft update on pages 220-249 (duplicated on pages 67-96). Note that Councilmember Jones has made a few proposed changes, which are shared on packet pages 250-252; the agenda summary explains we can adopt his changes now as part of the plan, or as an amendment in future.

Mill Creek Recommendations to the BLM from the City of Moab. This letter of support is on our agenda as a briefing and possible action. As explained in the agenda summary on page 253, the City has been participating in Mill Creek Community Collaborative (MCCC) discussions over the past few years to identify recommendations to address the impacts of increasing visitation on Mill Creek Canyon and nearby neighborhoods. The letter on pages 254-256 expresses the City’s support for the recommendations that MCCC presented to Council in June 2021.

Discussion and direction on pickleball courts. There are no pages in our packet offering more context on this, so tune in with me to find out what it’s about! I know a lot of you are pickleball fans!

Pack Creek Bridge Widening Agreement with UDOT. This is another item on our agenda as a briefing and possible action. The agenda summary on page 257 lays out the details of this $740,000 cost share agreement with UDOT, noting that the City’s share of funds are in this year’s budget, and that the project would replace the failing steel walkway on the east side of the bridge over Pack Creek on 400 East. Changes will create 5-foot bike lanes on both sides of the bridge, as well as a sidewalk on the east side of the road/bridge where the steel walkway currently is. For more details, please see pages 258-263.

Pack Creek Bridge Widening Project Task Order. This item is related to the previous one. Pages 264-272 explain that the city has an on-call engineering consultant named Civil Science, Inc (CSI). Because they got on our on-call list through a competitive procurement process, we can select CSI to design the 400 East Pack Creek bridge widening. This spares us having to go out for design proposals, plus CSI is already familiar with this project. Council will be briefed on this November 9 and we are being asked to approve the scope of work laid out in the packet.

Proposed Resolution 34-2021: a resolution approving the Plat Amendment of property located at 261 Walnut Lane, 178 W Williams Way, and 111 North 100 West, Moab UT 84532, for the HooDoo Hotel. This is another item on our agenda as a briefing and possible action. Please see pages 273-289 for an explanation of: why the applicant has requested the lot line adjustment between these 3 parcels; the role of the noted utility easement; and the reasons a public hearing is not required. 

Executive (closed) session.While this last item on our agenda will not be open to the public, I can tell you it will be a discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual or individuals.

That’s it for our November 9 City Council meeting, except that aside from what’s listed above, the meeting will contain standard items such as: reports from the Council and Mayor; approval of minutes (this time for our regular meeting Oct 26 (covered on page 97 of our packet) and special meeting Oct 26 (pages 98-102); and payment of the bills. 

Other items of potential interest

  • COVID-19 vaccine for kids 5-11 – thanks to the Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) Facebook page for this update tonight: “The COVID-19 vaccine is approved for 5-11 year old’s! Protect your child from COVID by getting them vaccinated. We will be holding vaccine clinics for this age group beginning Monday, November 8th. Schedule an appointment now at https://www.seuhealth.com/vaccine-scheduling.
  • Latest COVID numbers  – it looks to me like the Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD) COVID page (www.seuhealth.com/covid-19) is still undergoing changes, but in case you haven’t been going to the site regularly, we currently have 103 active COVID-19 cases in Grand County, 5 of which are hospitalized. Our active cases per 100,000 people are 1054.9. It looks like more than 68% of eligible individuals in Grand County are fully vaccinated as of today. 
  • Unified Transportation Master Plan public meeting – November 10. Per the City Facebook page: Share your ideas. Make Your Voice Heard. Be part of the Unified Transportation Master Plan public meeting and share your comments. Wed. Nov. 10, 5:30-7 p.m. Grand Center – 182 North 500 West. Info at www.grandcountymoabtmp.com.Take the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UTMP
  • FMLA Q&A – Several of you have asked me questions about “FMLA,” the Family and Medical Leave Act. I figured a lot of us have either never been in a job where it was offered, or we’ve never needed to use it, so maybe these questions and answers will be informative. Let me know if you have other questions about this, or any other topics!
    • What is the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? The FMLA is federal legislation that was passed in 1993. Per these two US Department of Labor web pages (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla and https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/faq#1): The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave a year, and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. Employees are also entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their FMLA leave.
    • The FMLA also provides certain military family leave entitlements. Eligible employees may take FMLA leave for specified reasons related to certain military deployments of their family members. Additionally, they may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.
    • Eligible employees are entitled to:
    • Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
    • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
  • Who is eligible for FMLA? The FMLA applies to employees of the following businesses/employers (source: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla/faq#1):
    • public agencies, including local, State, and Federal employers, and local education agencies (schools); and
    • private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year – including joint employers and successors of covered employers.
  • What salary and/or benefits does someone on FLMA receive? While on FMLA, they do not receive their salary, but do receive their health insurance. Note that employees with leave time available (sick/vacation) are required to use that time before they go on unpaid status.
  • Who determines how many days or weeks of FMLA the employee can take? Ie, is it up to the employee if they get 4 or 8 or 12 weeks, or does a doctor or someone else determine that? This is determined by what the illness/injury is along with the severity and estimated healing time. When an employee requests FMLA they provide an “estimated” return date that is subject to change depending on doctor recommendations up to 12 weeks. Since no two employees are alike and everyone heals at different speeds, one relies on the medical professionals.
  • When someone goes on FMLA, does the employer know how many days or weeks the employee will be gone for? No. It can be anywhere from a day to 26 weeks, depending on the category the employee falls into above.

That got mighty lengthy, so I’m leaving it there. Please let me know if I can be helpful with anything on your end.

Rani Derasary, Moab City Council member