Brady Trucking bunch counters foes at park
Petitioners hoping to repeal a recent city decision allowing industrial zoning along Grand Junction’s riverfront expected to gather signatures Saturday at a local park. What they didn’t foresee was employees from Brady Trucking Inc., the business that would be shut down by a potential zoning change, setting up their own booth nearby.
“We want people to know there’s another side to this,” said Brady Trucking employee Julee Reynolds, whose table sat a stone’s throw away from an opposition table at Hawthorne Park. “If they’re trying to do this to us, who’s next?”
Grand Junction City Council recently approved industrial zoning along the north side of the Colorado River in south downtown for the nearly 13 acres owned by the trucking company. Petitioners, including members of Western Colorado Congress, oppose the council’s decision, saying they want mixed-use zoning to make the waterfront more attractive with the potential for increased recreation, shops and restaurants.
Brady Trucking operations manager Russ Justice said the company never would have purchased the property in May 2006 if it believed it couldn’t operate there. The company looked for a year for land to purchase closer to Interstate 70, but it chose the riverfront site because it was the only applicable land for sale. Now, after spending $300,000 to eliminate the former rendering plant, a longtime eyesore along the riverbank, residents want to take Brady Trucking’s land, Justice said.
“Nobody wanted it until we cleaned it up,” he said.
Justice said the company has agreed to offer the city a 50-feet easement for a bike path, which company employees believe is more land than neighbors on the opposite side of the river would be willing to give up.
Also, Justice said, petitioners were distributing false information about their company, claiming they haul toxic waste and operate around the clock. Both are false assertions, he said.
Grand Junction police were called to the park after petitioners complained that Brady Trucking employees were interfering with their signature drive. Peggy Rawlins, who was gathering signatures, said police allowed Brady Trucking employees to stay, citing their freedom-of-speech rights.
Rawlins said in her years of running petition drives, she never has been confronted by an opposing group, and Brady Trucking’s presence kept some people from signing the petition.
“The fact that the whole area is going toward non-industrial use should continue this vision,” she said.
The group is seeking to gather 1,860 signatures of Grand Junction residents by Friday. If it meets that requirement, the City Council could approve the mixed-use zoning requested in the petition or place the issue on the ballot for an April election.
Rawlins said she didn’t know how many signatures have been collected so far.