Since we applied for a zone change from rural residential to small lot residential for our property on Murphy Lane, we have heard misguided objections raised by neighborhood property owners. The key concern is that the zone change would allow us to build as many as 137 houses on our 17 acres. It is thought that we want to build high-density housing. But that is a misunderstanding only. We have no such intentions.
I want to take this opportunity here to clarify and emphasize that we have no plans to build 137 houses. We only want to build around 50 to 55 houses, each acre occupying approximately three houses per acre or around 10,000 square-feet per lot. I hardly think you can call 10,000 square-foot lots high density. That would be disrespectful to communities in the rest of the country, or indeed the rest of the world.
We don’t want to build one house per acre on this land and cater to multi-millionaires, or the very high end of our market. We think 50 to 55 houses on 17 acres would be an optimal use of the land in question. It would provide mid-level housing priced between $250,000 to $350,000, a segment that’s sorely missing in the market today.
We can’t help it that the Grand County Land Use Code provides for a maximum of 137 houses for small lot residential zoning. If there was another code that allows for a more optimal quantity, such as 50 to 55, we would apply for that. But that doesn’t exist.
If the council can approve our rezoning proposal, we are prepared to add covenants to our deeds to cap the scale of our development. We would be happy to take any steps that would allay concerns about us building too densely for the neighborhood.
Our objective is not to maximize what we can develop under the SLR zone, but to have the leeway under an SLR zoning to build housing that has a strong demand in the market. In view of the vision of the county’s 2012 General Plan, which outlines plans for development of hospital and health care services, as well as a four-year college, amongst others, it is clear that there will be significant demand for mid-level housing from professionals and business entrepreneurs. Our development will meet the demand of such professional workers. It would also provide more affordable housing for people seeking starter homes who don’t qualify for low-income or self help housing.
“Not in my own backyard” is a common reaction to any development change in a neighborhood. It is natural that residents prefer the status quo, or to have only people of the same income bracket as neighbors. But it is by adapting to changes and responding positively to market needs that economic growth can be achieved and sustained. It is up to the council to decide the best use for this second-largest parcel of undeveloped land north of the Spanish Trail Road, but I respectfully urge council members to consider our proposal in the spirit of striking a balance between vested interests of neighboring landowners and our interests, which are ALIGNED with those of the prospective home buyers who could benefit from the type of housing that we plan to build.
I would like to assure you that our plan is supportive of the vision of the General Plan, and we will strictly comply with land use code rezone criteria. It is our hope that our proposed development will help keep property values in balance as supply meets demand.
Stable property values and housing availability could play a key role in Grand County’s and Moab’s economic plans for the future.
Randy Day is a real estate agent and developer who lives in Moab.