New rules for building in downtown
Developers of vacant land in Grand Junction will have to abide by a new set of standards, now that Grand Junction City Councilors approved a Greater Downtown Plan.
The vote was split 6-1 with Councilor Sam Susuras voting against it.
Many of the standards required by the plan already have been met, and often exceeded by recent building development, especially in the downtown core, Neighborhood Services Manager Kathy Portner said.
The Greater Downtown Plan is complex, involving different standards by area. The areas included in the plan roughly are outlined as the Rail district, the River District and the Downtown District. The plan also incorporates some zoning overlay standards in the downtown core. Standards for this area include new buildings on vacant land must be at least two stories tall. Maximum building height in the downtown area is 90 feet and pedestrian traffic is encouraged. Buildings should be constructed closer to the street with parking and storage to the side and the rear. Demolition of historic buildings is not banned, but it is not encouraged, according to the plan.
City Councilor Tom Kenyon questioned whether the new standards would be prohibitive to new businesses.
“I would hope, in the south downtown some of the investments the city is making would entice some additional developments,” Portner said.
Greg Motz, speaking on behalf of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, said the agency agrees with most of the policies in the plan. However, he said, he believed the plan needed a balance of incentives if mandates are going to be imposed. Motz asked councilors to delay the decision, partly because he didn’t think the plan was understood by all. He said the plan would adversely affect small businesses. “Why do we need additional regulations if the market is already taking care of that?” he said.
Ron Maupin, owner of Haggle of Vendors, urged Councilors to adopt the plan because it protected investments that business owners already have made. He said he wondered why Chamber of Commerce members now are interested in stalling the plan although it has been in the works for years.
“We need a plan. This gives us the protection that there won’t be a metal building downtown,” he said. “North Avenue is a perfect example of being without a plan.”
In other news Councilors:
Approved spending $189,125 for the purchase of 755 Struthers Ave. The property is adjacent to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. The property will become part of future development at Las Colonias Park. Purchasing the property is not included in the 2013 budget, and will be funded through City Council’s contingency fund.
Listened to a presentation from city staff members that yearend revenues from 2012 are higher than expected. A combination of savings in labor costs, contingency funds, operating costs and additional revenues amounted to an additional $1.6 million in the general fund balance. The money increases the general fund balance for 2013 from $19.3 million to $20.9 million. “Our departments continued to spend very conservatively in 2012,” Financial Operations Director Jodi Romero said.
Approved authorization for the City Manager to apply for a grant of $200,000 from the Department of Local Affairs to partially fund the design of a proposed fire station in Pear Park for the Grand Junction Fire Department. City Councilors have budgeted $300,000 in 2013 to acquire land for the proposed station. If the city is awarded the grant, the total amount budgeted for the station will be $500,000.
Approved a $3.9 million construction bid with M.A. Concrete Construction of Grand Junction to realign one-third of a mile on 22 Road. Road construction will accommodate two truck stops that will be built off U.S. Highway 6 near the interchange of Interstate 70. The realignment project will begin April 8 and should be completed by October. Separately, in June, the Colorado Department of Transportation will start construction on the Highway 6 to improve traffic flow.