Brady Trucking wins round in riverfront flap
Opponents of industrial zoning lose city ruling in petition dispute
A petition that would have overturned industrial zoning along the Colorado River in south downtown failed after Grand Junction City Clerk Stephanie Tuin disqualified some signatures.
Her ruling left petitioners short of the minimum number of signatures required.
In a nine-page ruling issued Friday evening, Tuin wrote that notary public Candi Clark had a disqualifying interest in the petition because she signed and notarized the same petition section. State law prohibits a notary public who has a disqualifying interest in a transaction, such as signing a petition, from notarizing that petition.
Tuin previously determined petitioners had collected 1,864 signatures — four more than the minimum needed to petition the City Council to change the zoning or refer the issue to city voters. But on Friday Tuin disqualified the petition section signed and notarized by Clark, which contained 18 signatures. That leaves petitioners 14 signatures short.
The city clerk also ruled Clark had a disqualifying interest because her company, Sunburst Graphics and Printing, printed the petition and because she testified at a City Council hearing last June that she could see Brady Trucking’s property from her Orchard Mesa home.
The ruling represents a victory for Brady Trucking, a Utah-based oil-field-services company which wants to expand its operations on nearly 13 acres near
27 1/2 and C 1/2 roads.
The City Council had approved light industrial and industrial-office zoning for Brady’s land, but members of Western Colorado Congress sought to change the zoning to mixed-use, citing concerns that industrial operations would harm the riverfront.
Tuin’s decision could lead petitioners to ask a district court judge to review the matter.
When contacted Friday evening, Clark declined to comment. She said petition proponents, who are calling themselves Concerned Citizens for Protecting Downtown Riverfront Zoning, were considering gathering in the morning and exploring their legal options.
“At this point, until we have a chance to look over the city charter and state statutes, I don’t know,” she said.
Neither Brady Trucking Operations Manager Russ Justice nor Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, who filed a protest against the petition, could be reached for comment.
Clark testified at a hearing last week that she did not run into any conflict as long as she didn’t stand to gain anything financially. But Tuin wrote in her ruling that Clark “assumed too many roles” and became “closely and personally involved” with the petition effort.
“It was clear in Ms. Clark’s testimony that the error was inadvertent. She thought a disqualifying interest had to entail a pecuniary gain, but that is not my reading of the notary law. Though the error may have been inadvertent, I believe the notary public’s interest in the transaction cannot be overlooked,” Tuin wrote.
The protest filed by Schwenke raised five other arguments for why the petition should be invalidated, but Tuin rejected all of them.