Planning commission opens ground-floor housing in commercial zone
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Oct 17, 2013 | 2301 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a move that they hope will help provide more affordable housing in Moab, the Moab City Planning Commission has recommended a change to Moab City Code that would allow employee housing to be built on the ground floor of developments that are located in a commercial zone.

According to Moab City Zoning Administrator Sommar Johnson, code currently prohibits any residential dwelling on the ground floor in C-3 and C-4 commercial zones.

“The city operates on sales tax,” she said. “They don’t want to take up prime commercial space with residential.”

However, with plans for a hotel at 100 West that would include housing units for employees, the planning commission wanted to open that option up to other developers.

The proposed ordinance would allow residential dwellings for employees to occupy up to twenty percent of the ground floor, or up to two 1,000 sq. ft. units per 10,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, Johnson said.

“There is no size limit on what happens on the upper floors,” she said. However, the housing units would be required to be set behind the principal business.

Before voting on the ordinance, the commission debated the size restriction of 1,000 sq. ft. per unit. “Why not twelve hundred or nine hundred?” commission member Wayne Hoskisson asked.

Planning commission chairwoman Kelly Thornton said that the restriction was set so that the employee housing would not hinder commercial activity on the property.

Planning commission member Jeanette Kopell said she has known several families that have lived onsite, managing hotels and other entities. “They may have four hundred square feet,” she said. “If you’re a beginning family, nine hundred or so is plenty.”

The commission held a public hearing regarding the suggested change, but no one appeared to speak.

“This is a starting point,” commission member Joe Downard said. “It’ll be interesting to see how it works and whether people take advantage of it.” The proposed ordinance will now go to Moab City Council for consideration.

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