The Times-Independent

The battle over noise takes a visual turn

New signs begin to dot Moab's front yards

Standing on his front porch, Pete Gross says the noise from nearby Mill Creek Drive — and specifically from off-highway vehicles (OHVs) — is driving him nuts.

At Rotary Park, Pete Gross stands by a new addition to some Moabites’ front yards.
Photo by Sophia Fisher

“Hardly an hour goes by when I don’t hear it inside this house,” he said, gesturing to his thick walls and double-paned windows.

Gross is one of the architects behind the newest addition to some Moab yards: bright turquoise signs declaring support for quiet streets, below a graphic of roosting birds.

“We want to deliver a strong message,” he said. “I mean, who can complain? ‘No, we want noisy streets?’”

Mill Creek Drive is a town thoroughfare, particularly for OHVs and other vehicles traveling to the popular Sand Flats Recreation Area. And the concomitant noise prompted Gross and a few friends to develop a show of visual support for the opposite end of the decibel spectrum — quiet.

Some had suggested “We [heart] quiet,” but Gross said he found it cliché.

Others had wanted a more aggressive signage targeting OHVs, but they eventually opted for “something that’s kind of unassailable, a strong message … that’s not targeting anybody in particular,” in Gross’s words.

“We thought, ‘Let’s start with this,’” Gross said. “How could you be against quiet streets?”

There’s a political angle to the signs, too, as local and state governments and private companies spar over who gets to regulate noise and OHVs.

The state Legislature recently barred counties from regulating OHVs through business licensing — a tactic Grand County had adopted last year — though kept in place Moab City’s updated noise ordinance.

Nearly simultaneously, over a dozen local OHV businesses filed pre-litigation paperwork against the city and county for alleged damages caused by those same regulations.

“We would like to show local powers that be that we’ve got your back,” said Gross, who gave away nearly all of the first 100 signs in a little over a week.

He said he’ll keep ordering them as long as he can afford to, or as long as he receives donations to cover the cost.

“To be really effective … the more we can get out there, the better,” Gross said.