Property rights are the main issue

By Chuck Johnson

On April 2, the citizens of Grand Junction will be asked to cast their vote on several issues. Among those will be Referred Measure A, which poses the question of zoning on the Brady Trucking property along the Colorado River. This vote should finally bring some resolution to an issue which has been discussed, argued and litigated for the last six years.

The issue is whether or not Brady Trucking should be allowed to retain its I-1 (light industrial) zoning, as approved, or if the question should go back before the City Council. It is really that simple.

A “Yes” vote on Measure A brings this question to an end and allows Brady Trucking to finally develop and use its property. A “No” vote takes us back to square one and starts this process all over again.

There are lots of other issues swirling around this question, most of which have been created by our opposition. But, the basic issue here is the right of property owners to responsibly and lawfully use their property.

I understand my opposition’s concerns, for the most part. I understand the desire to have a continuation of the Riverfront Trail, and we support this desire. That’s why we agreed to provide a 50-foot easement along the river, so that the trail system could continue unimpeded and everyone in the community could enjoy the riverfront. Fifty feet is the width of a four-lane highway. This will provide plenty of room for biking and walking or any other of the activities we enjoy along the river.

I understand their concerns about pollution. I, too, want clean air in our community. It is one of the reasons I live in the valley and not in a major metropolitan area.

This is exactly why we support and observe the newest Environmental Protection Agency regulations, from 2007 and 2010, which place strict controls on the amount of emissions that a truck engine can produce. These are regulations that prompt some engine manufacturers to claim the air coming out of these new engines is, in most cases, cleaner than the air going in. With some research, readers will find these are not the same trucks they remember from their childhood.

I understand their concern over the beauty of the riverfront. This is also a concern of mine and the people who work with me. Many of us spend our weekends recreating along the river. The natural beauty of our rivers is part of what makes our valley so special. My two sons spend many days floating its length during the summer months. This is exactly why part of the 50-foot easement provides for a landscape buffer. It is why fences and walls will be built, to separate the river and walkway from the property. It is our position that the two can coexist in a mutually beneficial relationship.

I have heard the concerns about having “industrial” property along the river. The zoning is called “light industrial” I-1, but I assure you, this is not the industrial of past eras.

We are not talking about steel mills and factories, like the ones people may remember. We have laws and regulatory agencies to govern these things and to ensure that companies are in compliance with these regulations.

I welcome everyone to stop by our current location and discover for themselves what type of business we operate. There are no hazardous materials, no placarded loads, nothing like what many picture in their minds.

The frustrating thing is that we didn’t have to be here. None of us had to waste all of this time and money dealing with this over the past six years. The property in question sat vacant for several years. During that time, none of our opposition tried to purchase the land and preserve it for their desired use, even though it was offered to both the city and the Riverfront Commision.

In fact, since the time that we acquired the property and cleaned it up, none of the opposition has made an offer to purchase the property from us. Our opponents have gone to great lengths to prevent us from using the property or to diminish it in value so that we might be willing to succumb to their pressure. But, not once have they made an offer to buy it.

I am always confused and a little disappointed when someone wants something only when he or she can take it away from someone else. In our society, even the noblest of causes do not justify that type of action.

Recently, at the Grand Junction Board of Realtors meeting, my esteemed opponent Harry Griff stated, “Brady Trucking has the desire to expand their business, but not the right.”

As much as I respect Harry Griff, I took real exception to this statement. I contend that so long as my actions are not infringing on the rights of another, that this statement from the Declaration of Independence should be foremost in how we interact and govern:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We do have the right to expand, the right to create jobs, the right to provide a living, the right to allow those that work with us to provide for their families and the right to enjoy the riverfront.

I’m sure not all readers agree with me, and that’s OK. We all have the right to respectfully disagree. That said, I hope readers do agree with me and will vote “Yes” on Measure A, so we can get back to building our business and creating jobs.

Chuck Johnson is vice president and general manager of Brady Trucking Inc.


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