Plan rankles some living in Redlands

Residents say city’s zoning will mean too-high densities

Two Redlands residents who have fought private efforts in the past couple of years to boost housing density in their neighborhood say they are concerned about a plan from the city of Grand Junction they claim will do the same.

Steve Voytilla and Paul Brown mailed letters to roughly 100 people Monday encouraging them to write letters and attend an open house at City Hall on Wednesday evening, when city officials will give residents the chance to offer feedback on the latest version of the comprehensive plan. The plan is expected to guide growth and development in the Grand Valley for the next 25 years.

Voytilla and Brown are worried the plan is proposing densities that are far too high and will erase the rural character of the Redlands.

City officials have held a number of open houses and public meetings in the past two years to gather input from residents on where and how development should occur in the coming years. The land-use maps for the valley have changed several times during those two years as city officials have made adjustments based on comments from the public and policymakers.

Voytilla said the most recent land-use map he’d seen for the Redlands proposed density no higher than two to four units an acre. Now, though, the current map shows density of potentially up to five units an acre for most of the Redlands and up to 16 units an acre in a few select areas, including the Ridges.

Many Redlands residents have resisted zoning changes, saying they’re incompatible with large-lot parcels, narrow roads with no shoulders and areas where wildlife frequently roam.

“We’ve never, ever said we’re against growth. We’ve never, ever said we’re trying to limit our responsibility for what may or may not come down the road as far as growth,” Brown said.

But “to me, we’re going to lose those unique characteristics (of the Redlands).”

But city Public Works and Planning Director Tim Moore said the land-use maps as they’re currently depicted don’t propose to do much different than what is either already in place or what can be done now under the city’s planning process.

He noted that the underlying county zoning for much of the Redlands permits four houses an acre. He also said developers currently can apply for virtually any zoning they want as long as they first seek — and receive — a growth-plan amendment.

Moore acknowledged that city officials, based on growth projections, are seeking to build at higher densities within urbanized areas of the city.

“What we’ve learned is we do need to try to get higher densities across the board, and that goes across the whole valley,” he said.

“We need to deviate from the way we’ve been doing things and start thinking about not sprawling out so far, but rather growing up. (That means) higher buildings in the downtown area and higher densities in areas of town where it’s appropriate.”

As part of an effort to streamline the development-review process, the city is proposing in the comprehensive plan to allow developers who submit projects that fall within a broad land-use range to skip a step in the process and apply for zoning.

Under the city’s current growth plan, if a project doesn’t fall within a land-use range, developers have to seek to amend the growth plan before they apply for zoning.

Wednesday’s open house will be from 5 to 7 p.m. in the City Hall auditorium.


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