De Beque action on growth plan could end wrangling with county

By LEROY STANDISH

After months of squabbling between De Beque and Mesa County, the town finally has updated its growth plan and satisfied the County Commission.

Monday night, the De Beque Planning Commission unanimously approved a plan that lays out how the town will grow and how it will provide services to areas of annexation.

“It is what we have always wanted,” County Commissioner Janet Rowland said.

The county was so insistent on what it wanted that it took the town to court. It sued De Beque to stop several of its annexations. The county claimed the town was growing too fast and had not planned on how to provide essential municipal services such as sewerage, to new annexations.

The county lost all its challenges, but one annexation case, the Newpark annexation, remains active. A status conference on the case is scheduled for November.

“Any future annexation will need to fit this plan,” Rowland said.

Town Manager Bruce Smith said the plan was not done to appease Mesa County. Rather, it was updated to satisfy the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which distributes millions of dollars each year in state grants to communities dealing with the impacts of the energy industry.

“This is completion of, really, an obligation to the Department of Local Affairs,” Smith said. “DOLA really wanted to see us do a comprehensive plan that really satisfies the county.”

Boiling it down to its simplest, Smith said the difference between the new and the old plans lies in the subdivisions anticipated to be built in the Blue Stone Valley,  which is south of Interstate 70. The town of De Beque proper is on the north side of the interstate.

Bennett Boeschenstein, a former city and county planner, was hired by De Beque to update the 100-plus-page plan.

“It touches on land use, growth management, housing, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, parks and recreation, trails, environmental protection, community facilities and services,” he said.

A key component of the plan is the De Beque Business Park, which is along both sides of the interstate.

Elkhorn Construction, 2181 45 1/2 Road, is held out as an example of how future development should look in the business park, Boeschenstein said.

“We expect Schlumberger (Oilfield Services) and others to follow suit with that kind of vision, a light, clean entryway,” he said.

A persistent theme in the plan is that De Beque residents want their town to reflect the west. Town officials anticipate two developments will be the first test of De Beque’s new plan.

“A new motel and a new Kum and Go convenience store going in at the I-70 exit will dress up the entryway,” Boeschenstein said. 

The town’s population, historically around 500 people, is predicted to swell by 3,000 to 10,000 people by 2030. The latter estimate assumes the build-out of homes in Blue Stone Valley, where employees of the region’s next energy boom would live.

At present the town is incapable of handling either population scenario.

“Water and sewer capacities are not there for the 10,000 population,” Boeschenstein said.


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