ST. GEORGE — The persistent push of transient lodging applications has caused the Springdale Town Council to fine-tune ordinances again to preserve the “unique village atmosphere and enhance the quality of life.” 

On the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the Town Council adopted a revised Transient Lodging Overlay Zone ordinance at its December meeting.

Lodging is considered transient if the establishment receives payment in exchange for the use of the dwelling for 30 consecutive days or less and includes any hotel, motel or bed and breakfast. 

“We feel it (the revised ordinance) helps address the impact of transient lodging on the town while maintaining transient lodging as an allowed use of commercial property,” Springdale Mayor Barbara Bruno told St. George News in an email. “We are especially concerned about the conversion of long-term housing to transient lodging and preserving a diversity of commercial uses in the town of Springdale.”

The Town Council adopted the original Transient Overlay Zone ordinance in December 2022. That ordinance required all new transient lodging to go through a legislative process for approval.

Springdale is grabbling with transient lodging applications, Springdale, Utah, Nov. 19, 2021 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

A task force comprised of commissioners, Town Council members, staff, local stakeholders and experts made regular reports to the commission throughout 2023.

The task force also recommended the town review applications every even-numbered year. 

Director of Community Development Tom Dansie reported to the Springdale council that in 2023, when reviewing the first five applications for transient lodging, both the commission and council identified the need for revisions to “promote transient lodging that is more in keeping with the goals of the General Plan.”

That plan states Springdale would develop policies to ensure new lodging facilities would promote the town’s “unique village atmosphere and enhance the quality of life.” 

During the December 2023 Town Council meeting and public hearing, councilman Jack Aton said he was uncomfortable with the proposed ordinance factoring in existing units on a property when considering new applications.

Alton said properties in town could still be built out but no longer may be allowed under the new Transient Lodging Overlay Zone. He felt this could result in Springdale missing out on potential long-term units.

Alton added that he and Dansie had drafted additional language allowing the council to consider an exception for these types of properties. Town leaders decided not to include those suggestions during the meeting, yet they were open to reviewing them at a future meeting.

According to the town records, 40 new transient lodging units were approved for 2023. Dansie said the task force revised the ordinance with the town’s general plan, which states that the government must “ensure the style, pace and intensity of new development does not detract from the town’s small-town character.”

Springdale leaders deal with an increase in Transient Lodging applications, Springdale, Utah, Aug. 22, 2023 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

One of the goals of Springdale’s general plan is to have “attractive, memorable and unique lodging that complements the visitor’s experience in Zion Canyon and Zion National Park.”

In a previous meeting in February 2022, Springdale Mayor Barbara Bruno said the consequences of Springdale’s rapid growth have resulted in:

A decrease in the amount of long-term rental housing and exacerbating the town’s affordable housing problem
A conversion of non-lodging commercial properties into short-term transient lodging, thereby detracting from the town’s village character
A reduction in the diversity of commercial uses and services in the community
An increase in the intensity of development on properties near residential areas
Added strain on the town’s infrastructure

During the recent Town Council meeting, the Springdale Transient Overlay revisions were approved and included:

Type I and II lodging are determined based on transient lodging units within the Central Commercial and Village Commercial zones.
Type I lodging shall have 13 or more transient lodging units.
Type 2 shall have 3-12 transient lodging units.
A new category for Type 3 lodging was added: two or fewer units on owner-occupied property.
Long-term housing shall be the only mixed-use to fulfill the mixed-use requirement for Type 1 and 2 lodgings.
There shall be one long-term residential housing unit at a minimum of 850 square feet for every four lodging units built rounded up. Owner-occupied lodging for Type 3 meets the long-term housing requirement. 
Changes to the application process: The town will accept unlimited applications for TLO zone changes between March 1 and March 31 of each even-numbered year.
Submitted applications must be detailed and require significantly more information than the current process so the Planning Commission and Town Council can make informed decisions on each application.
Applicants must indicate on the application how the goals and objectives of the General Plan are being met as related to transient lodging.
Identify the appropriate lodging types and unit scale in the Central and Village Commercial zones while maintaining the village character of Springdale and protecting residential neighborhoods from the impacts of commercial development.

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