Council approves riverfront industrial zoning

The Grand Junction City Council approved industrial zoning Wednesday night for nearly 13 acres along the Colorado River in south downtown, angering residents who vowed they will put the issue in voters’ hands.

Council members voted 4-2 to apply a light-industrial zone district to Brady Trucking’s western parcel at 347 27 1/2 Road and an industrial-office park zone district to two eastern parcels at 348 27 1/2 Road and 2757 C 1/2 Road. The land, which previously contained a rendering plant, is immediately east of the undeveloped Las Colonias Park.

The decision broke a months-long council stalemate that, had it continued, could have resulted in the trucking company suing the city.

Robert Jones, a representative for Brady Trucking, said after the meeting that Regional Manager Russ Justice “is glad to be at the end of the road.”

“As they have always tried to do, they have worked with the community to meet the goals and policies of the city,” Jones said, adding that conditions the council tacked on in an effort to limit Brady Trucking’s effect on surrounding property are a “sensible resolution.”

The decision infuriated the dozen or so people who attended the meeting and testified in opposition to industrial zoning. Orchard Mesa resident Janet Magoon, who lives on the south side of the river across from the Brady Trucking site, walked out of the City Hall auditorium in tears.

Later, she yelled across the hallway to a fellow opponent, “It’s wrong. It’s 2008, not the 1880s,” a reference to Jones telling the council earlier in the evening that the land was zoned industrial for decades before it was annexed into the city.

Neighbors said they plan to circulate petitions among city residents. The group would have to collect roughly 1,800 signatures in order to place a question on the ballot.

Three months after the council deadlocked 3-3 on how the land should be zoned — Councilman Bruce Hill recused himself both then and Wednesday night to avoid a potential conflict of interest — Councilwoman Teresa Coons broke the tie in favor of a mixture of industrial and industrial-office zoning.

Coons said the zoning debate has caused her more sleepless nights than most issues during her tenure on the council. She credited Justice with cleaning up the property and potentially saving taxpayer money, but she also said she shares with others a vision of the area becoming a greenbelt.

“I am very reluctantly opting to lose the battle in hopes of winning the war,” said Coons, who had previously joined with Mayor Gregg Palmer and Councilman Jim Doody to oppose light industrial zoning and favor strictly industrial-office zoning, a less intense land use.

Prior to the meeting, City Attorney John Shaver told council members they risked a lawsuit should they vote in a tie again. He said the law requires them to zone the land, and failing to do so would essentially constitute the city’s “taking” of the property.

In an attempt to break the council’s stalemate and limit effects on surrounding property, city planners and Brady Trucking officials drew up several conditions. They require Brady to erect a wall and a 25-foot landscape buffer on three sides of their property. Brady Trucking will also establish a 50-foot easement for a trail along the river and east side of the property.


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