Clifton man beats flagstone zoning rap
Rudolph Fontanari found himself between a flat rock and Mesa County this week.
Fontanari, who has owned Western Slope Flagstone, in the 3300 block of E 3/4 Road, since 1994, was called before the Mesa County Commission on Tuesday for allegedly violating conditions contained
within a county-issued conditional-use permit and operating a business in a residentially zoned area.
But by the end of the hearing, Fontanari showed that the zoning of his land was changed without his consent from industrial to residential and the conditional-use permit was issued under questionable circumstances.
As a result, the commission refused to allow the county attorney’s office to pursue legal action against him.
The verdict was not surprising to Joan Brumback. She lives next door to where the flagstone is processed and has complained to the county for years about the Clifton operation.
“I would like to have him remove the rocks, period,” Brumback said after the hearing.
Only in the past three years, since she has been putting her complaints to the county in writing, has she gotten any action, she said.
In 2005, the county issued Fontanari a notice of violation for the business being in an inappropriately zoned area.
A year later, Fontanari was granted a conditional-use permit. One of the permit’s conditions called for Fontanari to close the flagstone operation in five years.
But there was a problem.
“There was no violation to start with,” Fontanari told the commission Tuesday. “I was falsely accused of not being industrial (zoned land). I was falsely accused of not being AZT (agriculturally zoned land).”
Fontanari’s flagstone operation occupies more than two acres on the north and south sides of E 3/4 Road. In 1977, the bulk of it was zoned industrial, the rest remained agricultural, which allows for the processing and sale of flagstone. Fontanari had the documents in hand to prove that.
“Leave my zoning the way it has always been,” he said. “Revoke the (conditional-use permit). I don’t need it. I never did.”
Fontanari said he has no plans now to close his business and intends to cede it to his son and grandson when he retires.
Linda Dannenberger, Mesa County’s land-use and development director, said the zoning on Fontanari’s property was changed without his notice in 2000, as was the zoning on many other properties in the Clifton area, as part of a realignment of Grand Junction’s urban growth boundaries.
The commission took a dim view of zoning being changed without notification.
“We have to have landowners’ consent,” Commissioner Craig Meis said.
Commissioner Janet Rowland said the way the zone change was conducted was upsetting, but the location of Fontanari’s business is not appropriate because it is so close to homes.
“It’s bad all the way around,” Rowland said.
County staff was directed by the commission to review the 2000 rezoning, confirm the original zoning of Fontanari’s property and review the conditional-use permit before bringing the case back to the board.
Once the county confirms the zoning of Fontanari’s property is industrial and agricultural, he will still have to apply for a site plan to continue his operations there.