On Monday October 3rd, the City of Sandy passed an indefinite moratorium on all commercial and residential development. Citing a “secret” year’s long battle with state and federal water regulators, Sandy’s City Council voted unanimously to issue a rare city-wide building moratorium for at least 6-months. Releasing the text of the resolution with virtually no warning, the city pulled the rug out from under local builders while halting any potential development from occurring—all in the midst of a severe housing shortage. As a result of poor planning and lacking investments, city officials codified Resolution 2022-24, which bans all new building activity that would require new sewer connections. The city did carve out a vested or pre-approved allowance of up to 120 residential units to connect to the city’s sewer system during the building freeze. However, beyond that no additional projects will be allowed to move forward. The cause of this last-minute moratorium is apparently due to the city’s sewer and sanitary water systems having little to no capacity for new users. Having racked up over 200 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) violations for exceeded capacity in recent years, Sandy will use the freeze to test for new capacity in spring of 2023, while making infrastructure improvements and technical fixes to city pipes and sewer basins. A staff report released just days before the moratorium outlines the rationale: “To reduce the potential for additional violations as the city constructs the improvements, the City will limit new connections to the system through a moratorium on development until additional capacity can be demonstrated. The temporary moratorium is necessary to prevent the approval and vesting of additional development projects that lead to new sewer connections until capacity becomes available in the city’s sewer system.” While the current moratorium is set for 6-months, the city’s own report admits that the timeframe for improvements will take longer, stating that “it is anticipated that additional capacity will not be demonstrated within that time.” The resolution also allows the city to extend the moratorium up to three additional times, if desired. This could potentially block all new development in the city for nearly 2 years—a blow not only to the building community, but also to housing affordability in the city. During the freeze, Development Services staff will not be allowed to accept or process any residential or commercial applications that lead to new sewer connections. This includes banning all annexations, subdivisions, partitions, replats for new lots, ADUs, comp plan and zoning map amendments, or any specific area plans. However, applications that do not involve new sewer connections, like remodels, will still be accepted. Especially for the landowners and builders who’ve already installed sewer systems on projects with the city’s explicit approval, this moratorium is demonstrably unjust and potentially illegal. HBA is currently talking with our members in Sandy about potential legal challenges to recover forgone profits, investments, or carrying costs for existing developments that may be adversely impacted by the moratorium. Given that the entire philosophy behind System Development Charges were to have development help pay for growth to prevent these types of moratoriums, there is little justification for any city’s irresponsible approach towards its own growth. The end result will be exacerbated unaffordability for the people in Sandy who need new housing the most.