The Moab City Council has given final approval to an ordinance allowing home construction on smaller lots.
Approved by a 4-1 vote Tuesday night, the ordinance allows minimum lot sizes of 5,000 square feet rather than the previous 7,200 square feet. It also reduces the maximum height of new homes from 40 feet to 30 feet.
Council members characterized it as a way to provide affordable housing within city limits. However, the issue became somewhat controversial over the past year, with some city residents saying during public hearings that the ordinance would negatively impact neighborhoods and possibly block solar access.
Council member Gregg Stucki said the ordinance modifying the land use code gives “pretty significant” options for home construction, although he said it’s likely the measure will be tweaked in the future.
“It’s better than what we have now,” Stucki said.
Council member Kyle Bailey cast the only opposing vote, saying he was concerned about unintended consequences of the new regulations. He said he is against changing the land use code “as a blanket thing.”
Bailey explained during an interview that he is worried about the effects the ordinance will have on existing subdivisions. People who purchased homes in a neighborhood did so expecting a certain look, Bailey said. But homeowners are free to expand their houses under the revised ordinance, altering the appearance in a way other residents might not like, he said.
Council member Kirstin Peterson offered an amendment reducing the setback for single-family homes and two-family homes from 20 feet to 15 feet, matching provisions of the ordinance for other types of housing. The amendment, which was adopted as part of the council’s vote, would allow homeowners more creative use of outdoor living space behind the house, she said.
Another amendment from council member Doug McElhaney also was approved. It pertains only to single-story homes, and allows a house’s maximum footprint on a lot to be 75 percent of the land remaining after setbacks and easements are deducted.
The previous language called for a 60 percent footprint. McElhaney said he intends the amendment to promote more single-story construction.
In a memo to the council, he wrote that his goal is “to maintain the rural small town character of the neighborhoods and to protect the solar capability of the neighbors.”
The ordinance goes into effect immediately for new residential construction, Peterson said.