MD’s Moab City Council Meeting Preview 2021-12-14

[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.]

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):

Regular session starts at 7 PM. You may use the City’s youtube channel to listen to tonight’s meeting. You can see and hear (but not talk to) them using:

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

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:  879 1981 0582    Passcode (if needed):  652753 Link:
  • To participate in person, accommodations will be made in the Moab City Council Chambers.
  • 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.

Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Budget Amendment, Public Hearing; Ben Billingsley, Finance Director

  • The state permits the City to periodically amend its on-going budget following a Public Hearing. Later on in this meeting, Council will discuss, possibly modify, approve, deny or table the amendment. Please see this article below for more information.

Administrative Reports

  • 4.1.      Acting City Manager Updates
  • 4.2.      Code Compliance Update
  • 4.3.      Pack Creek Foot Bridge Update

Mayor and Council Reports

Water Conservation Plan Update Disposition: Vote. Mila Dunbar-Irwin, Sustainability Director

  • This State required Water Conservation Plan Update is due to be adopted before the end of 2021. The Council has seen this plan in draft form at previous meetings, and heard public comment at the last meeting. Suggested changes have been incorporated into the document in the packet today. Once the Water Conservation Plan Update is adopted the plan will be sent to the State to satisfy our requirement and staff will begin work on the items outlined in the plan. There is a late breaking proposed addition to Section 6.6.2 that philosophically deals with the question of what to do with water “saved” by conservation measures – use it for new development or “save” it to deal with drought/climate change later on? Electing the latter sounds like a no-brainer, but actually doing so could run afoul of state law or private property rights.

Development Agreement for 398 Kane Creek Blvd Parcel. Nora Shepard and  Cory Shurtleff, Planners

  • The developer of this 10 acre parcel on the N side of Kane Creek Blvd, roughly across the street from a cluster of apartments on the S side, wishes to rezone it from RA-1 (rural-ag) to R3 (allows apts, townhomes, condos),  roughly 170 units with 2 acres of open space on its W side, with Pack Creek bordering the N and E sides. The rezone was rejected a few months ago, but now the developer has agreed to make 33% of the units subject to a deed restriction (that runs with the land) requiring that these units be occupied by local employees/owners/disabled/retired from recent local employment. A Development Agreement must be signed before a rezone can be considered. The DA spells out in detail who does and does not qualify as a local employee, and what % of units are subject to deed-restriction. Council may amend the proposed language. The rezone itself and a subsequent site plan will be considered later and is not part of this discussion.

Rezoning 398 Kane Creek Blvd from RA-1 to R-3.Nora Shepard and  Cory Shurtleff, Planners

  • This ordinance, if approved after Development Agreement approval discussed above, would rezone 8 of the 10 acres the parcel from RA-1 to R-3. The 2 acres left in RA-1 are on the NW side of the parcel adjacent to other RA-1 parcels and existing residences, a buffer. While that is an asset to be sure, I note that from a riparian conservation point of view, a better location for the buffer is on the N side, closer to the Pack Creek corridor. There is also a question of “facilities availability:” it’s not clear how and where water, sewer, power and trails will come from and their right-of-ways through adjacent properties. There’s an issue with only one ingress/outgress off Kane Creek Blvd; a second potential access off 500W is claimed to be private and is too narrow to provide good fire protection, not an academic issue considering a drying climate and Pack Creek foliage. As always, there’s a trade of density vs. off-street parking requirements; while it would be nice if everybody got around on e-bikes and didn’t need cars, it’s mostly wishful thinking. The ordinance also asserts that this zoning change conforms to the general plan; that’s partially true in that the town needs workforce affordable housing (courtesy of the DA, not the rezone, I note). But the town also likes its (vanishing) rural character, which this upzone definitely doesn’t do. The DA states that once the rezone is approved, Council can’t turn down any site plan that conforms to zoning code 17.67 Site Plan Review. There’s a lot of pressure to “do something” (more) about affordable workforce housing, but I personally want to make sure it results in that and not simply more pricey townhomes/condos for second homes or retirees.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), Cory Shurtleff, Planner

  • The language of this proposed ordinance has been cleaned up via legal review to ensure it conforms to new state statute HB82. I expect we’ll vote on it; after quite a bit of Council and staff thrashing, it looks good to me. [I say “Good,” not perfect. Legislation never is, but like an aircraft landing where you can walk away or a medical procedure that does more good than harm, it’s good, in my opinion. The idea is to reduce barriers to another form of affordable housing, particularly workforce housing as well as family members.] Basically ADU’s can be part of an existing dwelling (an Internal ADC), or separate from them (an External ADU); can’t be used for short term rentals, and must be used for workforce housing or family members. One IADU exception (to conform to state statute HB82/2021) requires owner-occupancy of the main dwelling and need not be rented by workforce.

New vacuum truck for Public Works. Levi Jones, PW Director

  • Public Works is currently sharing a 15 yr old, small capacity “vacuum” truck with the sewer dept., which is cumbersome when it’s been used with sewers and is next used with drinking water. A bigger capacity truck with useful features isn’t cheap, $113K. Levi says they’ll keep the old one for smaller jobs.

Moving the Film Commission to the County, Annie McVay, Parks, Recreation and Trails Director

  • In recent years jointly funded by city and county, this action moves funding and operation of the Film Commission entirely to Grand County. The county’s TRT tax revenue will provide funding. The county enjoys more economic benefits derived from the commission than does the city.

Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Budget Amendment, Ben Billingsley, Finance Director

  • This discussion follows the Public Hearing earlier in this meeting. Since the detailed red-lined budget you’ll find in the packet is time-consuming and arcane to read, look instead at Ben’s helpful Supplementary Information document, also in the packet. The good news is that revenues are about $1.3M higher than expected so far in the FY (that began 7/1/2021). Ben wants to keep ½ of that in the General Fund to fatten its balance, while spending the other half on new stuff. One new proposed expense is $80K to hire “Visioning Consultants,” see discussion below. $38K is for a salary survey which local governments do from time to time to ensure staff is paid not too little and not too much compared to similar entities elsewhere. The police dept. gets $75K for equipment that integrates officers’ bodycams with tasers and firearms to provide more consistent interaction with the public including bodycam protocol; you’re probably aware of criticism of less-than-ideal bodycam procedure in the past year. There’s $300K to repair or replace the Pack Creek Pedestrian bridge which is alleged by city engineering staff to be dangerous to use. And more to the tune of $600K; please read the Supplementary Information document in the packet. Bottom line is that, in my opinion, some of this is needed, some is not.

Community Vision and Strategic Action Plan Contract, Carly Castle, acting City Manager

  • Nine businesses have competed for a city contract to develop a Community Vision and Strategic Action Plan beginning in January 2022 and ending in October.  The Favorite is Future IQ, although staff apparently prefers another vendor and a couple of Council members prefer Future IQ, I’m not sure why the difference. The effort is apparently a broad survey addressing topics such as: What should Moab become? What makes Moab unique and special and how can the City use these characteristics to prepare for the future?  How will community stakeholder preferences fit into this vision? How should funds be invested and leveraged to build resiliency for the City? An effort is being made to incorporate inputs not often heard, for example Spanish and Navajo residents/speakers if needed. Plans call for a number of on-line tools and processes. The consultants will analyze survey data and present it in digestible form. After four years on Council, I must admit I’m a bit cynical about these sorts of efforts. To be sure, they provide an avenue for a wide variety of “stakeholders” to be heard, but I suspect the answers we’ll get aren’t going to surprise many people. Is it money well spent? I’m reserving opinion for the moment.

Dear Reader: This is the last Council meeting I’ll preview because my term ends at the end of the Calendar Year. Many people, folks on both sides of the political spectrum, encouraged me to run again, and I really appreciate that support. But I elected not to do so to have time to travel, among other reasons. I’ll still be around, a lot of water stuff and the Moab Charter School board. Serving on Council has been a highlight of my life – I’m glad I did it. Congratulations to our new Mayor and Councilmembers – give them your best and expect the same from them. It’s a lot of work. Rarely are there easy answers. Not much black and white, a lot of grey trades. But in the end, Council is here to serve you. I hope I haven’t disappointed you.

Hope this helps,

Mike Duncan, (soon to be ex-) City Council member :)