Monticello council hears from public on proposed zone change and hotel

By Joe Boyle
Monticello city council heard from the public regarding a proposed zone change and plans for a new hotel in the city as part of their latest meeting.
Members of the Monticello city council opened their February 28 meeting with a public discussion regarding the proposed zone change from residential one (R1) to residential two (R2) properties on the east side of 100 west from Uranium Drive to 100 North.
Residents in this residential two (R2) zone will have the opportunity to construct or remodel current properties into duplex properties for “long-term” residents.
While some community members were in support, the majority of those who voiced their opinion were frustrated with how limited this change in zoning was for the majority of city residents.
As it stands now, the plan would only see a section of a single block near circle drive that would see this change in zoning. Councilwoman Kim Henderson explained that this was due to the fact that if the whole block was done, the new zoning would eventually reach Monticello High
School, which the city would like to avoid.
Community member Jane Frost was passionately against this proposed zoning change. Frost expressed concerns over restricting this right of potential extra income to other city residents whose homes and property are not any less equipt than the homes in the R2 zoning.
Frost went as far as to say the zoning change would “divide our city,” and was in no way fair.
In response to those who were flat out against the zoning change and its effects on the community, Henderson said, “Our community does need multifamily housing, it’s just a fact.
Elaine Gizler, San Juan County Economic Development Director and city resident, explained the need for more “mixed housing” from her position for the county. Gizler explained how the lack of a workforce makes it difficult to bring in potential economic opportunity for the city and county, and without different forms of housing, the workforce can never grow.
Councilman Nathan Chamberlian wrapped up the discussion by saying: “This is just a public hearing, no decisions are going to be made tonight. We’re just trying to figure out which direction you guys want to go.”
There was also a public discussion regarding the proposed new hotel near the Hideout golf course.
A number of owners of local hotel owners voiced their concerns against the new hotel.
Both Jason and Candice Davis, owners of the Atomic Blue Motor inn, were not only concerned for their future but as well as other locally owned hotels in Monticello and where these businesses will find workers.
Because the new hotel will be a part of a name-brand chain, Davis argued it will be nearly impossible for these locally-owned hotels to compete with the pay and benefits that can be offered by these chains.
Inn at the Canyons owner Hiedi Harris shared her concern, simply saying, “we don’t have enough employees.”
Gizler voiced her support for the hotel and Jared Berrett, the man behind the plans, specifically. She spoke highly of Berrett's character and reputation as a boss. She also supported the quality control that comes with name-brand hotels and thinks this new hotel could bring in a lot of income and help monetize an underutilized golf course.
Berrett also made comments during the discussion. Berrett first started by clarifying some things he felt were misunderstood during the last city council meeting discussion on the hotel. Berrett said he bought the property specifically to avoid having to put in a turn lane. The cost for such a project would be nearly $5,000,000 and Berrett just doesn't have the budget for that.
Berrett also clarified that he fully intends to pay for utilities and that the request to use the Hideout name would be more in collaboration to help promote the golf course. A name-brand hotel would not allow Hideout to be in the name.
Berrett also said that “no one's sales went down,” in Bluff after the construction of Bluff Dwelling and Monticello would likely be no different. Berrett said his intentions aren’t to steal workers or customers and that this hotel would benefit the community as a whole.
The council was sensitive to the concerns expressed by current owners.
“I can hear the concern, I can understand the concern,” said Councilwoman Henderson.
The council discussed the potential for a Community Reinvestment ACT (CRA) for all businesses in the community as well as trying to develop a better relationship between the golf course and local businesses.
Despite concerns, Henderson explained that there was not much they could do to stop the hotel even if they wanted to.
“Beyond code, we’re limited,” said Henderson
The council also briefly discussed a potential five-year deal with NorthEast Planes Aviation to act as the Fixed Base Operator at the airport. The small Wyoming company President Elliot Arthur presented to the council at a meeting last October.
Members of the council also discussed a new travel approval process for city employees.

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