City planning code changes would speed process

The Grand Junction Public Works and Planning Department hopes to make the city zoning and development process easier to navigate with a list of code revisions.

The changes include lightening some landscape requirements, allowing more uses to occur without a conditional-use permit, and designing new zoning to accommodate village and neighborhood center designations in the newly adopted comprehensive plan.

The changes, which the Grand Junction City Council will approve or reject at its April 5 meeting, also would give new duties to Public Works and Planning Director Tim Moore. Moore would have the authority to approve preliminary plans and final plats for subdivisions; approve condominiums and lease holding agreements; approved proposals for signs; and approve administrative changes to the comprehensive plan.

This would reduce work for developers and planning commissioners, Moore said, because developers would not have to write lengthy engineering reports and present them to the council for approval. The engineering information would still be on file in the planning department.

Even with his new duties, Moore said the City Council still will get final say in later stages of development, such as annexation and zoning decisions.

The proposed code changes would give neighbors more say in the beginning stages of development. Currently, a developer hosts a neighborhood meeting only if a plan involves 35 or more lots, and the meetings often happen after developers have established their plans and find themselves spending money or time to make changes based on suggestions from neighbors, Moore said. With the change, neighborhood meetings would be discussed as early as a developer’s first meeting with a planner.

“This eliminates costs, and I hope it eliminates conflicts,” Moore said.

Dave Thornton, the city’s principal planner, said planning and development staff would attend the neighborhood meetings and answer any questions from neighbors. Planners currently attend “about 90 percent” of these meetings and take more of a backseat position in the meetings, Thornton said. He said developers would be asked to bring site-use plans to the neighborhood meetings so that neighbors know more than just what zoning a developer plans to ask for.


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