On Tuesday, the controversial Kane Creek Development suffered another setback to its plans during a Grand County commission meeting.

The decision to grant the Kane Creek Preservation and Development LLC-managed development a wastewater treatment plant and water storage facility was delayed in April, but earlier this week, the commission voted to deny the permits in a 5-2 vote.

The 180 acres of commercial property along Kane Creek Boulevard are planned to have 580 luxury residential and commercial units with their own water system. Although the proposed water systems met certain requirements, the decision came down to whether they aligned with the Grand County General Plan. According to the Utah State Code, no public utility can be constructed unless consistent with an approved general plan. The current plan was adopted in 2022.

During the meeting, the development’s attorney, Bruce Baird, rebutted, “General plans (are) always vague and ambiguous, mostly. ... But generically general plans are hopes, dreams, wishes and visions. And hopes, dreams, wishes and visions are not sufficient to deny a conditional use permit for inconsistency.”

Baird added, “It’s very simple. My clients installing the sewer lines intend to be safe, will be safe and will be subject to the jurisdiction of any regulatory body to ensure that they are safe.”

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Following the decision denying the permits, Commission Vice Chair Kevin Walker said, “The statute, Utah Code section 17-27a-406, ‘basically doesn’t give us much choice,’” per The Times-Independent. “If we think that the proposed public utility is not consistent with the general plan then we have to turn it down, even if we think it would be a good idea.”

Commissioner Bill Winfield, who approved the permit, said, “We already have a poor track record on conditional use permits. ... While the Kane Creek project is extremely controversial and many are opposed to it, I am unwilling to vote against our professional staff and county attorney,” per Moab Sun News.

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The development has received heavy protests against its production by the residents of Moab. A grassroots advocacy group known as the Kane Creek Development Watch formed earlier this year to oppose the project near Arches National Park. Those against the development argue that the land — previously Kane Springs Campground — must be preserved to keep its natural and cultural integrity.

Baird also argued that it is inappropriate for the commission to have public opinion sway their votes:

“You cannot unring the bell from the fact that all of your constituents that vote for you have shown up and say that they hate this project and you need to vote against it. That’s not your job to listen to what they don’t like (and) what they don’t appreciate with their hopes and their wish and their dreams are. Your job is to merit-ly evaluate this project.”

He added that the development is prepared to appeal the county commission’s decision.

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