Growth plan bothers neighbors

County OKs urban zoning for developer

Glen and Diane Gallegos have owned a home in the 2400 block of I 1/2 Road for the past decade. They chose that area for its rural setting and open spaces, and they would like to see it remain that way.

But more homes on smaller lots may be coming their way. The possibility of urban
surroundings is disconcerting to the Gallegoses and more than 20 of their neighbors who earlier this week attended a land-use hearing before the Mesa County Commission. They protested a request by Richard L. Warrick to rezone 22 acres, northeast of 24 1/2 and I roads, from its agricultural designation to a new classification, the urban residential reserve, or URR.

URR essentially requires developers to cluster homes to a minimum of one home per acre, build to urban-level standards with curbs, gutters, sidewalks and lighting, and set aside some property for open space in the short-term and for development in the long-term.

“If this rezone is approved, it would devalue my home and my property and take away my rural lifestyle,” Diane Gallegos said.

The rezoning was approved on a split vote, with Commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland in favor and Commissioner Steve Acquafresca opposed.

Meis said the area “is the bull’s-eye area for future city growth.”

Acquafresca, though, said the city of Grand Junction is in the midst of drawing up its comprehensive growth plan, which reaches into county areas, and the commission’s decision on Warrick’s request might be premature.

Some residents expressed amazement that the rural lifestyle they sought and invested in was about to be rezoned.

“We chose this land because it offered what we consider to be western Colorado living,” said David McDaniel, who lives in the 900 block of 25 Road.

The rezoning, he said, will open the door to urban development, setting a precedent for the area.

Explaining her vote to the audience, Rowland said it was a basic matter of property rights.

“We should not hold (property owners) hostage,” Rowland said. “To me this is an issue of property rights.”

Meis agreed, saying property owners have a right to develop their property. Although the commission approved the rezonig, he said, anyone who wishes to develop the property will have to go through a rigorous planning process. It is during that process when residents should come forward to ensure their property rights are preserved, Meis said.

Glen Gallegos, who sits on a city subcommittee that is working on the comprehensive plan, said he understood the commission’s decision.

“It would have been hard to turn it down,” he said. “Criteria-wise, I don’t think they had a choice.”

But, he added after some thought, “It is precedent-setting for that area ... very disturbing.”


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