Commission votes to deny permit for OHV rally
by David Boyle
The San Juan County Commission denied a request from Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) event organizers to lease land from the county in Spanish Valley but did encourage them to move the event into other parts of the county.
The Rally on the Rocks is an annual guided ride event bringing about 2,000 people each year to ride trails in Grand and San Juan counties.
Rally on the Rocks headquartered their first nine events in Grand County.
The spring 2020 event was rescheduled to fall 2020, before ultimately being cancelled related to impacts of COVID-19.
Plans to hold the event the third week of May at the Spanish Valley Arena were thwarted when the Grand County Commission denied the event permits in late December.
The Grand Commission had recently placed a moratorium on new events and business permits related to OHV activity in Grand County after hearing complaints from residents regarding noise pollution from the machines.
Organizers hoped to move the event down the road to the old Spanish Valley Airport strip located in San Juan County.
The proposed lease agreement would have allowed the Rally on the Rocks to headquarter the event at the old airstrip. In return, the county would receive $2,000 an $18,000 donation to county Search and Rescue, as well as to the San Juan School District, along with all sales tax collected by vendors at the event.
At the January 5 San Juan County Commission meeting, commissioners voted 2-1 to deny the lease agreement after hearing about an hour of public comment on the issue. Commissioners Kenneth Maryboy and Willie Grayeyes voted against the lease agreement and Commissioner Bruce Adams voted for it.
Public comments came from those both for and against the Rally on the Rocks
Grand County Commission Chair Mary McGann said in the fall of 2020, Grand County received 176 emails complaining about noise from UTVs.
On the opposite side, they received 128 emails from people asking the Rally on the Rocks event be permitted. An additional 3,341 people signed an online petition entitled “Make Moab quiet again.”
Among those in favor of the lease approval is UTV Utah President Bud Bruening.
Bruening represents 25,000 UTV owners in Utah. He says the organization efforts to work with Grand County has fallen on deaf ears.
He also offered that the organization would help to mitigate noise and other issues if the event were to take place in San Juan County.
Several residents of Spanish Valley in both counties, as well as Grand County Commissioner Kevin Walker, asked the commission to deny the lease.
San Juan commissioners also heard from a Spanish Valley resident in favor of the event, as well as members of UTV Utah and other UTV enthusiasts who have previously attended the annual event.
Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy said he has nothing personal against UTV use and mentioned that he is a mud racer himself.
“Our position here is to enhance the economy which is good, but I’m not seeing anybody getting a room in Monticello to bring business,” said Maryboy.
Maryboy said he didn’t see any way event promoters could control those at the event from violating noise ordinances. Maryboy added his concerns about hosting an event while the COVID-19 pandemic has had an enlarged impact on San Juan County.
Commissioner Willie Grayeyes also voted against the lease agreement. Grayeyes cited complaints of neighbors to the event and conversations with Grand County officials as reasons behind his vote.
Grayeyes also said he’d like to possibly see the event moved deeper into San Juan County.
“I think we should re-negotiate with them to have it at Monticello or Blanding,” said Grayeyes, “where some amenities, hotels, eateries are available. Contribute to the local [economy. If] we place it next to Moab, then they get the benefit.”
Commissioner Bruce Adams voted to approve the lease. Adams said the agreement required liability insurance covering any damage to county property or infrastructure and that the event would be conducted in accordance with state law when it comes to noise and operation of vehicles.
Adams also pointed to the economic benefit of the use of about 100 short-term rentals available in the northern part of San Juan County.
Adams said Rally on the Rocks organizers are anxious to share the wealth with San Juan County.
“It’s a one-year lease agreement,” said Adams. “If San Juan County didn’t like what’s happening down there, or push back after the event, we don’t have to renew for another year. Give us time to work with organizers to move the event closer to Monticello or Blanding.”
The San Juan Record has reached out to Rally on the Rock organizers to ask about their plans but has not heard back as of this report.
At this time, the Rally on the Rocks website is accepting registrations for the event starting in February.