This Week in Pictures
Sara Melnicoff addresses the Moab City Council before members voted on a new contract with Monument Waste Services. Melnicoff told the council she would favor residents have the option to pay for and receive curbside recycling services rather than being forced to pay.  	               						             Photo by Carter Pape
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Sara Melnicoff addresses the Moab City Council before members voted on a new contract with Monument Waste Services. Melnicoff told the council she would favor residents have the option to pay for and receive curbside recycling services rather than being forced to pay.                                     Photo by Carter Pape
Sara Melnicoff addresses the Moab City Council before members voted on a new contract with Monument Waste Services. Melnicoff told the council she would favor residents have the option to pay for and receive curbside recycling services rather than being forced to pay. Photo by Carter Pape
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City passes opt-out recycling
by Carter Pape
The Times-Independent
Feb 14, 2019 | 390 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sara Melnicoff addresses the Moab City Council before members voted on a new contract with Monument Waste Services. Melnicoff told the council she would favor residents have the option to pay for and receive curbside recycling services rather than being forced to pay.  	               						             Photo by Carter Pape
Sara Melnicoff addresses the Moab City Council before members voted on a new contract with Monument Waste Services. Melnicoff told the council she would favor residents have the option to pay for and receive curbside recycling services rather than being forced to pay. Photo by Carter Pape
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The Moab City Council voted unanimously to implement an opt-out, single-stream recycling program in the city. Under the new plan, residents can opt out of curbside recycling, paying only for garbage services, and many could see monthly fee reductions for the services. Under the new plan, residents who wish only to receive garbage services will have the option to pay as little as $12 monthly for curbside services, a $5 decrease from the current rate. For residents who do not opt out of biweekly recycling services, curbside pickup will cost between $24 and $30 per month. This compares to the $29 total monthly fee for residents who currently get their recycling through Green Solutions. Under the new plan, which was passed during the regular council meeting on Tuesday Feb. 12, businesses will bear the brunt of recent fee increases at landfills and recycling centers. Monument Valley will levy rate increases of between 14 and 65 percent on Moab businesses starting on March 1, according to City Council Member Karen Guzman-Newton. Recycling services for businesses will remain optional, at least for now; council members and city staff expressed a desire to eventually have businesses participate at a greater rate in recycling. City Manager David Everitt said that the new recycling and garbage fee structure is designed to incentivize businesses to participate in the recycling program. Businesses can save money on their waste services by accepting smaller garbage bins in exchange for recycling bins. About 30 citizens came to the meeting Tuesday night to speak before the council. Everitt said it is “rare” that so many citizens would show up for a council meeting and that he was excited to see so many people involved in the legislative process. Nearly all of the citizens who addressed the council concerning the new recycling program spoke against the proposal to mandate people to use the service. During the hour-long period of public comment, citizens asked questions of the council, provided prepared comments, made a reference to the Dr. Seuss classic, “The Lorax,” and expressed gratitude toward council members for their delaying of the vote to give the public an opportunity to provide input. One resident spoke in favor of the idea of mandatory recycling. Some council members shared concerns about the city’s impact on citizens who produce very little waste, how to educate the public about how to ensure a clean recycling stream and the large rate increases that businesses will soon face. Many council members said they received emails from the public about the recycling center on East Sand Flats Road in which some citizens incorrectly assumed how the recycling center is funded. The recycling center is funded by tax revenue, primarily the Transient Room Tax, which is levied on visitors to local hotels, motels and other overnight accommodations. According to Everitt, this means that the recycling center is funded in large part by tourism. When asked whether he believed the recycling center would close as a result of the more aggressive curbside recycling program, Everitt said, “I don’t think so, and I hope not.” Everitt said that he thinks the operations of the recycling center will evolve over time, perhaps to begin handling waste streams such as from construction and or starting a composting program. Sara Melnicoff, founder of Moab Solutions, staunchly opposed mandated recycling when the idea was pitched earlier this year and has advocated for the recycling center to remain open and operational. Melnicoff told The Times-Independent after the vote that she was “so happy” with the city council’s decision to go with the opt-out system, particularly because it helps people for whom mandatory recycling would have been “a financial burden.”
Heavy equipment operators move dirt at the site of the former propane plant on Highway 191 just north of Slickrock Campground, where a 159-unit timeshare vacation project will be built. The Moab City Council on Tuesday joined Grand County in implementing a six-month moratorium on any new construction of overnight lodging. Projects already approved, like the one above, are exempt.     Photo by Doug McMurdo
Heavy equipment operators move dirt at the site of the former propane plant on Highway 191 just north of Slickrock Campground, where a 159-unit timeshare vacation project will be built. The Moab City Council on Tuesday joined Grand County in implementing a six-month moratorium on any new construction of overnight lodging. Projects already approved, like the one above, are exempt. Photo by Doug McMurdo
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City joins county, hits pause on nightly rentals
by Nathaniel Smith
The Times-Independent
Feb 14, 2019 | 468 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Heavy equipment operators move dirt at the site of the former propane plant on Highway 191 just north of Slickrock Campground, where a 159-unit timeshare vacation project will be built. The Moab City Council on Tuesday joined Grand County in implementing a six-month moratorium on any new construction of overnight lodging. Projects already approved, like the one above, are exempt. 				Photo by Doug McMurdo
Heavy equipment operators move dirt at the site of the former propane plant on Highway 191 just north of Slickrock Campground, where a 159-unit timeshare vacation project will be built. The Moab City Council on Tuesday joined Grand County in implementing a six-month moratorium on any new construction of overnight lodging. Projects already approved, like the one above, are exempt. Photo by Doug McMurdo
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Following closely in the steps of its Grand County counterpart, Moab City Council passed its own six-month moratorium on the construction of new overnight accommodations. During its regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, the four present council members voted unanimously to implement the moratorium for the maximum allowed time period. Like the county’s moratorium, the one implemented by the city prohibits the development of new nightly rental uses, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts and other overnight accommodations. City Attorney Chris McAnany noted that developments that have already submitted complete applications will be exempted from the moratorium. The other major exemption is nightly rentals in commercial zones that are awaiting business licenses, McAnany said. McAnany characterized the moratorium as an opportunity to look at future land use planning. The moratorium will provide a “temporary break in development” that allows city staff and the council to “study or enact new ordinances or regulations,” McAnany said. While most people who spoke during the citizens to be heard portion of the meeting addressed the waste hauling contract also on the agenda, some residents expressed support for the moratorium. Of the four people who spoke on the issue, all were in favor of the measure. Kiley Miller said she fully supports the moratorium because it is necessary to “stop this runaway train” as Moab continues to attract more visitors and the impacts they bring. Former planning commissioner Wayne Hoskisson spoke in favor as well, calling it a “great idea.” The next six months can be used to come up with solutions to the worsening housing problem, Hoskisson said. Two current members of the Grand County Planning Commission, Kevin Walker and Bob O’Brien, expressed their personal support of the moratorium. Walker called the moratorium a “no-brainer,” also asking the council, “why wouldn’t you want to take a new look at hotels?” Walker said: “A no vote would mean you think everything is great the way it is. I don’t know many people who think that. The tough votes will come in the future when you decide what the long-term policy should be.” O’Brien urged the council to pass the moratorium because it will help focus planning efforts on the issue of housing. “A moratorium will put pressure on you, and it will put pressure on your planning commission,” he said. The council’s discussion was relatively short. Mayor Emily Niehaus described the moratorium as “a fire under our rocket to make us shoot off into the future of land use planning.” Niehaus said she is “excited for this fire” and noted that she and some council members campaigned on alleviating housing issues. Niehaus said that with only six months to work, the council will “need to be on top of this” so they aren’t rushing to come up with policy as the moratorium deadline nears. Council Member Karen Guzman-Newton said she is looking forward to working with the county to develop a shared vision for land use in the Moab Valley. What will happen in the next six months is still uncertain. Council Member Mike Duncan asked what the process will be and what items may appear on future agendas. McAnany responded that the council will have to drive the new policy initiatives. To start, city staff will study what zones should allow overnight accommodations and look at possible changes to mixed-use, McAnany said. “What’s very important to staff is that the council gives some direction about what kind of changes it wants to see in those zoning districts, so it’s wide open,” McAnany said. City Manager David Everitt said that during its recent retreat, the council decided, should the moratorium pass, it would have to “recalibrate the future land use map process.” LandMark Consultants, the firm that was hired to assist with planning, will hold a workshop with the council in two weeks to get on that same page and set priorities, said Everitt. “We’re going to have to make some serious choices as we move this process forward, so we need to be ready to do that,” said Niehaus. “This council is committed to do that … to get it done. And we’re going to rely heavily on the work of the consultants.” Council Member Kalen Jones said, “This ordinance is actually a result of the overwhelming success of the tourism and lodging industry … but we’re a victim of our own success, and I really think we need a pause to complete some much-needed work to address broader community development concerns.” Jones cited the 2018 nexus study that established a connection between new nightly rental developments and a reduced supply of affordable housing. “I believe there is a compelling countervailing public interest to ensure that lodging uses are developed in a manner that complements the other needs of this city and its residents,” he said. Guzman-Newton made the motion to implement the moratorium and Jones quickly seconded prior to the unanimous 4-0 vote. Council Member Rani Derasary was in Washington, D.C., and did not cast a vote. The moratorium took effect immediately after its passage.

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