Bret Edge and Michael Thurston

Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge swore in Michael Thurston as Moab’s assistant chief of police at the start of the July 9 Moab City Council meeting. This meeting covered topics including the ordinance to determine the fate of new overnight accommodations; recent and upcoming mosquito spraying; potentially adding secondary lights to existing traffic light poles; and vehicle idling within city limits. [Photo by Robin B. Dahm / Moab Sun News]

The July 9 meeting of the Moab City Council covered a number of new discussions about changes in the city.

The meeting kicked off with the unannounced swearing-in of Michael Thurston as Moab’s assistant chief of police. Thurston’s family and a number of police offers were in the audience. Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge, himself recently chosen by council to replace former police chief Jim Winder, performed the swearing-in.

Limiting the duration of vehicle idling within city limits was discussed in preparation for the next meeting’s vote on this topic.

At that time, the code will be finalized to limit idling to either 20 minutes with no exceptions, or to 2 minutes with exceptions. Exceptions encompass work vehicles such as for those used for emergency services or construction.

The public can comment on these topics at the July 23 meeting of the Moab City Council during the “Citizens to be Heard” section of the meeting.

Moab City Manager Joel Linares restated the burn ban and reminded everyone that it does not give an exception for agricultural burns.

“Obviously it’s July, so no one’s being allowed to burn anywhere,” Linares said. 

Chace Gholson, a Moab Mosquito Abatement District Board member, discussed how Moab has changed its spraying strategy to control the large mosquito population.

“It is a … health issue and also a quality of life issue,” Gholson said. Gholson said some spraying had taken place last Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, and the number of mosquitoes has “declined quite a bit” as a result of these interventions.

More spraying is needed, though.

Gholson said spraying was scheduled to take place the evening of July 9, and that an aerial drop of larvicide is scheduled for about 300 acres over the sloughs (a small area of the wetlands on the western side of Moab) on July 14. Access to this area of the wetlands will be restricted during this aerial application. The treated area can be re-entered about 45 minutes after the application ends.

Gholson explained that the spray chemical is “designed for being able to be fogged in residential areas, and it’s only a 4% solution.”

For residents, beekeepers, and other people who would like to know the spraying schedule, Gholson said it goes out “to to all of our media, both radio stations … but generally, it’s always the main news.”

Moab City Engineer Chuck Williams discussed the new traffic flow and parking plan for 100 East and Uranium Avenue. These road and driving changes will become necessary because of the upcoming construction of the new middle school and the placement of the Radcliffe Hotel (where the Moab Tourism Center currently stands).

A new topic for the board to consider: Adding a second traffic light to the existing traffic light poles on Main Street.

“The height of the large vehicles … they block the visibility of these mast-mounted lights (that hang over the intersection),” Williams said. The secondary, side-mounted lights would be mounted on the vertical pole planted in the intersection corner, making them visible even if the mast-mounted one is not.

Rachel Stenta, the city’s finance director, updated the council with how she is examining Moab’s taxes.

“If I can impress on all of us to really get focused on what the true concern is, for us as a resort community,” Stenta said, “it’s that broadening the base, is it going to create a windfall in our community where a reduction of sales tax is going to compensate? What we will feel is a false security. With (a broadened) base, we won’t see a whole lot extra revenue, that we’re going to see a reduction based on the existing revenue that we receive.”

She continued by saying, “We can’t provide the services for our visitors balanced on the backs of our permanent residents.”

Moab City Planner Nora Shepard said the city’s planning commission has forwarded a positive recommendation about proposed Ordinance 2019-018 which would remove overnight accommodations as a permitted use and allowing established overnight accommodations to remain legal uses in the C1, C2, C3, C4, RC, and SAR zones.

The Moab City Council now has two weeks to consider any revisions to this ordinance before its final deliberation. The final vote will take place at the next regular council meeting.

“We’ve been getting a lot of emails,” Shepard said, “and many of those went through the planning commission, because that’s where the public hearing was. And I have forwarded everything that I got to you (Moab City Council). And I just want the public to be sure that you’ve seen all of that communication as well.”

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