Proposed RV park outside Zion National Park rejected

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A proposal to build an RV park, hotel and gas station near the northwest entrance to Zion National Park has been rejected by county commissioners who said the rural area wasn’t equipped to handle that kind of commercial development.

Washington County commissioners unanimously voted down the proposal Tuesday despite a earlier approval from a county planning commission, the Spectrum newspaper in St. George reported.

A company called Juniper Investors was asking the commission to rezone land near the town of New Harmony off Interstate 15.

The area is near an entrance to Zion National Park that leads to a 5-mile (8-kilometre) scenic drive through the Kolob Canyons area. The park’s main entrance is southwest of there, about a 40-mile (64-kilometre) drive by highway to the town of Springdale, which already has dozens of hotels, restaurants, and outfitter and souvenir shops.

Park officials opposed the project because they worried the development would affect views from the canyon and overwhelm the limited staff that work the entrance, chief ranger Daniel Fagergren said.

“A gas station and other types of businesses in such proximity to the park is not conducive to the values the park espouses,” he said.

Stephen Swindle of Juniper Investors declined to comment after the vote.

Dozens of residents from the town of New Harmony went to the commissioners’ meeting to express their concerns about light pollution, the water supply and how long it would take law enforcement to arrive from other cities in emergencies. Several of them celebrated after the commissioners’ decision.

“We did it, we won. We’re going to stay rural,” New Harmony resident Pamela Whitaker said.

The Associated Press