Junk property gets county attention

Land at base of Mount Garfield being targeted for legal action

Eighty acres at the base of Mount Garfield — loaded with “junk vehicles; industrial equipment; two, 40-foot commercial storage containers; and a non-permitted second dwelling,” according to Mesa County Code Enforcement — is being targeted to comply with the county’s land development code.

On Tuesday the owner of the property at 784 33 Road, Martin Schwartz, appeared before the Mesa County Commission to ask for more time. Code Enforcement made the case that Schwartz already had several warnings, and now is the time to proceed with legal action against him.

After nearly two hours of deliberation, the commission gave Schwartz an additional 45 days to correct the code violations, mainly because he had removed an estimated 55 percent of the offending materials.

Schwartz’s attorney, Carol Dellhouse, said her client was only doing “what every good American should do” by supporting the energy industry.

Dellhouse applauded Schwartz’s patriotism by allowing IXP, an energy-support-services company based in Fruita, to store equipment there. She offered neither praise nor condemnation for the assortment of other materials on his land.

But she did point out that many of the items irksome to Code Enforcement, such as junk cars and tires, have been removed. She asked the commission for more time so Schwartz could file for a conditional-use permit and legally house industrial equipment on his land, which is currently zoned agricultural.

“There is a real need for businesses coming into the valley,” Schwartz said. “They need space to do their thing.”

But if “their thing” resembles what has been transpiring, then that is not a solution, neighboring resident Tom Owen said.

If Schwartz “continues to get away with these infractions,” the whole area will become a
dumping ground, Owen said.

He said the dirt road north of the highway was an access road for all the property owners in the area. But the heavy equipment trucking up and down it daily was causing the road to deteriorate.

County engineer Linda Dannenberger, director of land use and development, said she has had discussions with IXP in the past and told the company that north 33 Road is not a suitable location for a host of reasons: to gain access to north 33 Road, vehicles have to make a dangerous cut across oncoming traffic; the 33 Road overpass of I-70 is not certified to carry heavy truck loads; and the land is not zoned for industrial use.

After the meeting everyone seemed to have a measure of satisfaction.

“I am happy,” Owen said.

“It’s a very fair process,” Schwartz said.


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