Council wrestles with historic areas in proposed master plan

By EMILY ANDERSON
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Not in my backyard? Not in my comprehensive plan, Grand Junction City Council members said Friday.

Council members convened to review a 381-page draft of the comprehensive plan Friday and will continue to look over and edit the draft today and Sunday. Language about protecting the city’s historic neighborhoods, its heritage and its culture was taken out during the first meeting.

“I don’t know how we protect something that is changing through natural evolution,” Councilwoman Bonnie Beckstein said.

“We talk about maintaining a small-town feeling; I don’t know what this is or how to do it,”
Mayor Bruce Hill said as the sentence was deleted from the draft.

Hill added, though, “There has to be a respect for history” in Grand Junction.

A goal “to protect, retain and preserve valued historic structures and cultural resources that symbolize the community’s identity and uniqueness” was replaced with the sentence

“Land-use decisions will encourage preservation and appropriate reuse.”

Council consensus also led to the removal of wording in the draft about preserving land for agriculture, with the reason being the language was too specific.

“As far as agriculture goes, that’s where land is sold and where houses are being built,” said Councilman Tom Kenyon, who is a Realtor.

The council left in a part of the comprehensive plan that said preventing sprawl should be a goal, although not everyone at the meeting said that goal is plausible.

“It’s happening, it’s going to happen,” Kenyon said of sprawl.

The comprehensive plan draft says increasing density in the city’s center is another goal.

Toward that goal, the draft suggests increasing maximum height limits on buildings, allowing multifamily housing units to be as many as six stories.

Councilman Bill Pitts said he’s in favor of even bigger buildings, as high as “40 stories.” He used Horizon Towers as an example of an apartment complex that should be duplicated in the city’s core.

“Build them all over town. I don’t like single levels. That’s what elevators are for,” Pitts said.

The plan draft also encourages construction of mixed-use developments and a wider variety of housing options.

The council will continue plan discussions at 8 a.m. today at City Hall. Agenda items include reviewing zoning and development-code updates, examining maps, and planning a town hall meeting.


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