Fruita-GJ buffer zone homes denied

In a split vote, Mesa County commissioners on Tuesday upheld a denial of a plan to add 18 homes to a subdivision east of Fruita that is surrounded by farms and is within a restricted-development area.

The board voted 2–1 to side with Kurt Larsen, the county’s Planning and Economic Development Department director, who rejected a proposal from the developers of Roma Estates. Commissioner Janet Rowland dissented.

Roma Estates is built on two parcels totaling 140 acres on the east side of 20 Road between K and L roads in the Fruita-Grand Junction buffer zone. The buffer zone, officially known as the Mesa County Community Separator Project, is intended to limit development between Fruita and Grand Junction, and Grand Junction and Palisade.

The county three years ago approved development of six lots on the 40-acre parcel. Subdivision developer Blue Star Industries came back before the county this year, seeking to resubdivide the 100-acre parcel into 18 one-acre lots and one 80-acre lot that would be set aside for future development, resulting in a proposed density of one home per 5.5 acres. The county’s master plan, however, calls for a density of 15.5 acres, based on the average density of properties within a half-mile of Roma Estates.

Kim Kerk, development supervisor for Blue Star Industries, asked commissioners to grant the higher density. She noted that Blue Star had to install a 10-inch water line for the six homes currently in the subdivision.

“There’s definitely a plan there for future development,” Kerk said.

Neighbors, though, said allowing 18 homes to be built on one-acre lots could set a precedent for buffer zone development and create conflicts with surrounding farmers and ranchers

Brian Pace, who lives and runs a goat farm on 6 acres at 2019 K Road, said if commissioners approved the additional subdivision, they would have 18 angry residents appearing before them next year complaining about the odor from Grand Mesa Eggs and dust from surrounding farms.

“I beg you, please, please don’t destroy the buffer zone,” Pace said. “Please, please don’t drive more agriculture out of the valley.”

Rowland said she believes the density sought by Blue Star and the company’s plan to cluster homes in one corner of the property struck a balance between respecting the developer’s property rights and protecting agricultural land.

Commissioner Craig Meis, though, said he was reluctant to stray from the lower density recommended by the county’s master plan in the buffer zone.


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