Grand County (Utah) Commission hosted a public hearing regarding the proposal of a glampground to be located near the junction of Highway 191 and State Route 313.
According to a report, the proposed project called “Entrada Moab” would require the commission to accept the application for the Overnight Accommodations Overlay to the property of 544 acres.
It is currently zoned as Range and Grazing and is bordered by Bureau of Land Management property, primarily employed for leisure.
Entrada Camps and Conservation, the applicant, is under contract to purchase the property from Intrepid Potash mining company if the overlay is approved.
The description of the project defines it as a luxury eco-retreat centered on environmentally responsible tourism. It will comprise 16 tent sites, an activity center including a spa, swimming pools, and a panoramic deck and trails.
At a site plan review, the applicant would have to provide a public water source; the wastewater would be treated onsite with the Orenco brand system.
According to the applicant, accommodations will start at $2,000 per night.
The letter, which ECC Managing Director Matt Kareus signed, also states that he founded Entrada Camps and Conservation to bring a new model of low impact, high-value sustainable tourism to the American West, beginning in Grand County and that he has seen firsthand how thoughtful, well-managed tourism can provide substantive economic benefits to local communities and people. He also added that it could be a powerful force for the conservation and protection of the natural world.
The developers have stated that they plan to put the majority of the property in a conservation easement to protect open spaces in the Scenic Resource Protection District along the North Highway 191 corridor. The developed areas will be hidden from view from the highway.
“Our intention is to preserve as much land as possible from development–from current development, from future development,” Kareus said.
Grand County resident John Weisheit, who is the Colorado Riverkeeper of the non-profit Living Rivers, asked applicants if they’d spoken with the staff of the National Park Service about how the development would affect groundwater needed for an ecosystem in the Arches National Park.
“We have been working with a hydrologist that’s been involved in drilling a lot of the wells in the area, recently and in years past, and he assures us that we won’t run into conflict with the Arches protection zone,” Kareus said, adding that they will address the matter with the park service at some point.
Weisheit urged Kareus to contact the BLM to ask about areas of critical concern that could be affected and also suggested that he drill a monitoring well to ensure that water withdrawals aren’t affecting other water users.
“The entire Colorado River Basin is in a shortage situation right now where we don’t have any more water to spare, quite frankly,” Weisheit said. “So we have to think about these things. We have to think about long-term resiliency and sustainability.”
Kareus explained that the company is talking with a hydrologist to develop a water management plan, with sustainability as a top priority.
The neighboring property owner Brian Hayes also called in to the meeting to endorse the proposal, saying he prefers the proposal to other kinds of development that could otherwise happen on the property.
“Rather than having, in the future, potentially numerous second homes or other developments, we think this is a good opportunity to protect the land as open space, to protect the viewshed,” Hayes said.
Commissioner Kevin Walker noted that any type of overnight accommodations development is a delicate issue and requested more details on how the commission can ensure that the developer will follow the word on its promises regarding conservation and open space.
Grand County Associate Planner Elissa Martin said that the agreement for development would legally restrict the applicant to the requested 16 units.
Due to how ordinances are written and drafted, the conservation easement and future employee housing cannot be included in the agreement.
Kareus declared that if there was an option to bind the terms legally, he was prepared to adhere to them.
The Grand County Planning Commission recommended that the commission approve the request subject to the requirement that six deed-restricted employees housing units are included in the master plan. However, the language of the OAO doesn’t permit the housing needs of employees to be included within the agreement for development.
County Attorney Christina Sloan recommended that the commission decline the request because the county is currently undertaking a study of RV and campground zones.
She suggests that the county refuse all RV and campground OAO Rezone requests until amendments to that zone in the land-use code can be made, and a carrying capacity study can be done.
The public hearing on the proposal is open until February 9.
Comments can be e-mailed to the commission at email@example.com.
The commission will decide on the proposal at a future meeting.