City again delays vote on historic district zoning

For the second time in a month, the Grand Junction City Council has delayed a decision that could have major implications on how land is used in the future in the historic district on Seventh Street.

After nearly two hours of testimony and allegations that city officials either were attempting to quash private property owners’ rights or illegally rezone their property, the council voted 5-0 Monday night to take a proposed zoning overlay for the district back to a workshop. Council members Tom Kenyon and Gregg Palmer were absent from the meeting.

Prior to voting, the council acknowledged concerns raised by some North Seventh Street Historic Residential District residents that city documents contained multiple errors regarding design standards and basic background information about the district. Council members also were still grappling with appropriate land uses within the district and what criteria should be used to judge them.

Many residents of the district have been battling with the city for seven months over a proposed bed and breakfast at 604 N. Seventh St., arguing it would introduce a commercial use to the neighborhood and erode the ambience. City planners awarded a permit to the owners of the home, Ron and Sherri DeRose, although an appeal of that decision is scheduled to be heard by the Planning Commission on Oct. 27.

The zoning overlay city leaders are considering would require the council to review planning staff decisions on all applications for home-based businesses and day care, accessory units, sub-units and small bed and breakfasts like the DeRoses’. More significant changes would go directly to the council.

Sherri DeRose told the council the proposed overlay could yank her rights to change how the interior of her home is used without impacting its exterior and subject every single land-use change, no matter how minor, to a potentially lengthy and contentious public hearing.

“This is what will happen with every single use,” she said. “It’s not real pleasant. It’s terrible, actually. It’s divided the neighborhood.”

But Jodie Behrmann, an attorney who represents several homeowners in the district, said they aren’t looking to take away anyone’s rights. She said they simply want the council to consider at a public hearing whether any land-use change is appropriate and compatible with the neighborhood. She and several residents have claimed a 1984 plan did just that, although city officials say there’s no evidence the plan was ever adopted.

“That’s what we want. That’s what we’ve asked for. And for 7 1⁄2 months the city has been trying to twist it up into something else. This isn’t hard. This is simple,” Behrmann said.


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