Springdale wrestles with slew of transient lodging applications, impacts of growth

ST. GEORGE — Springdale’s unprecedented growth has spurred the Town Council to vote to only accept applications for Transient Lodging during even-numbered years.

This change in the ordinance was recommended by the Springdale Planning Commission to address the town’s overwhelming number of transit applications during Wednesday’s council meeting.

“Obviously, working on this and deciding how to do this is going to be a big task and not something that we can do, certainly in tonight’s meeting, or even in a series of several meetings,” Director of Community Development Tom Dansie said during the Planning Commission’s Dec. 7 meeting.

By general definition, transient lodging is any establishment that receives payment in exchange for the use of the dwelling for 30 consecutive days or less, including any hotel, motel or bed and breakfast.

Dansie recommended the Planning Commission establish another task force composed of commissioners, Town Council members, staff, local stakeholders and experts for a more in-depth review of the transient lodging overlay zone. The new working group would make regular reports back to the commission.

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

This group would replace the current working task force formed in February. The current group recommends the change of approving transient applications every other year. 

The members include Dansie, Mayor Barbara Bruno, Town Manager Rick Wixom, Director of CommuniCouncilwoman Lisa Zumpft, Planning Commission members Tom Kenaston and Ric Rioux, and Hans Dunzinger, who is representing owners of transient lodging, and Teresa Silcox as a resident at large.

The new group reporting more often to the Planning Commission would have the opportunity to be involved with this process than with the previous group, Dansie said. He also noted that the new group could look at banning transit lodging or slowing it down even more than it is currently. 

Planning Commission Chairwoman Kyla Topham said part of their priorities in January is establishing a priority list for a new working group if they agree on a working group. 

“We need to get a game plan together tonight,” Topham said.

The ordinance limits the town to accepting five applications per year, but the proposed revision will limit the town to accepting five applications in even-numbered years and no applications in odd-numbered years.

The ordinance states that town applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Suppose the town receives multiple applications for transient lodging that exceed the application cap on the same date. In that case, officials will conduct a random drawing to determine which application(s) are processed.

According to the town records, 40 transient lodging units have been approved but still need to be built. Springdale won’t know the impact of these additional 40 units on the town’s character until they are constructed and in operation. Construction on these units will likely be completed in late 2023.

Dansie said that the first task force revised the ordinance with the town’s general plan in mind. The plan states that government must “ensure the style, pace, and intensity of new development does not detract from the Town’s small-town character.”

A resident of Springdale, Laura Doty, spoke to the council and said she hoped they would set up another committee to review the ordinance to see if it would benefit this town in the long run. Doty was in favor of the recommendations made by the planning commission.

“They made some positive suggestions about setting up a committee and to review it on an ongoing basis from the beginning of the year through all of next year. And I hope that that will happen,” Doty said.

The plan further outlines that new lodging facilities promote Springdale’s unique village atmosphere and enhance the quality of life, as well as the town’s “in the park” feel, small village scale and unique atmosphere. This goal is for the town 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, 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

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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