Salt Lake City, UT— The Utah Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments at the Moab Courthouse on Friday Oct. 18, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
The judicial panel comprised of Judge Kate Appleby, Judge Michele Christiansen Forster, and Judge Ryan M. Harris will hear the following case:
Wallingford v. Moab City – 10:30 a.m. 20180542-CA
Arguments will be held at the Moab Courthouse in Grand County, 125 East Center Street, Moab, UT 84532.
Below is a summary of the case:
Wallingford v. Moab City, Case No. 20180524: In 2008, the Moab City Council approved a development project (the Project), known as Lionsback Resort, just east of Moab off of Sand Flats Road. As originally envisioned, the Project was comprised of, among other things, 188 single-family lots and a 50-unit nine-building hotel, with each unit in the hotel containing three rooms. Construction was delayed for various reasons, including a prior appeal that was resolved in favor of the City. In 2016, the developers sought a revision to the Project that would, among other things, consolidate all of the proposed hotel units into one larger building and allow each room to be locked off and potentially owned or rented separately, creating a 150-room capacity but not altering the overall project footprint. The Moab Municipal Code states that “minor changes” to land use applications may be approved by city staffers, without a public hearing, but mandates that “major changes” “shall not be permitted without prior review and approval by the planning commission,” including a public hearing. At the developers’ request, and after much negotiation, the City considered the amendments requested in 2016 to be “minor changes,” and approved them without holding a public meeting. This decision was challenged by a group of Moab residents, who believed that the amendments requested in 2016 were “major changes” that should have required a public hearing and formal approval by the planning commission. They filed a lawsuit asking the court to declare the City’s approval of the amendments illegal, and to require a public hearing. The trial court dismissed their claims, and they are now appealing. The underlying question presented in the appeal is whether the changes that the developer requested in 2016 are the sort of changes that a municipality can approve without public input, or whether those changes are substantial enough to warrant a public hearing before approval. The appeal also presents procedural questions about the deference courts should afford municipal decisionmakers in cases like this one, and whether the resolution of this issue by the city constituted a negotiated settlement of a dispute rather than a land use decision.
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