Redlands 
growth hits 
roadblock 
with city

A recommendation that the city of Grand Junction require an unusually long warranty on streets within a proposed Redlands subdivision may draw the interest of the local business and development communities.

Developer Two R&D LLC, which is proposing to build 72 single-family homes in the Pinnacle Ridge subdivision near Mariposa Drive, will be seeking preliminary approval from city councilors for public and private streets and to build on lots with a grade greater than 30 percent.

While the Grand Junction Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the streets and lots with conditions, the developers have determined one of those conditions is unacceptable.

City planners are asking for a seven-year warranty on the two miles of road through the subdivision. Engineering firm Vortex Engineering has offered a two-year warranty on the roadway, which is twice as long as what’s called for in city code. The code only mandates a one-year warranty for roads built by developers that will become public roads.

“Hopefully logic would prevail here,” said Robert Jones, president of Vortex Engineering. “We can’t just make policies on a project-by-project basis. If we can get the City Council to understand that, we’ll try to make the first filing (toward) construction this summer.”

Lisa Cox, a special project coordinator for Vortex, said the condition requiring a seven-year warranty on the road is cost-prohibitive to the development and would cost $1 million in security for each phase for seven years. That’s something bankers have never heard of, nor would they approve, Cox said after inquiring with several of them.

“We can’t just decide we’re not going to follow the code because we have intuition or something,” she said. “There’s nobody that will take that kind of risk. If that condition is put on it, no developer will touch it. I just don’t see how that’s business-friendly.”

The city has said in its report that the seven-year warranty is required for this project, citing multiple other roads that have failed. Three of the roads are in close vicinity — Shadow Lake Court, Shadow Lake Circle and Mariposa Drive. The Spyglass Ridge subdivision on Orchard Mesa also has several failed roads.

“City policy has always been for development to pay its own way,” the city cited in its report. “When streets move and the warranty is over, taxpayers spend thousands of dollars to fix problems… The movement seen at Spyglass and Mariposa took a few years to manifest (itself). With the on-site soils, the magnitude of site grading and the city’s recent experience, the risk to the taxpayer is too great to accept the standard one-year warranty for Pinnacle Ridge.”

Cox filed a Colorado Open Records Act request with the city to ascertain the history of soil surveys for those roads. She found that boring tests were completed outside of the area of where the road was built for the Shadow Lake area. Mariposa Drive was built over a former dumping site, and Cox said she could not find any surveys done for that road. Spyglass is built on bentonite soils, which she claimed is not a fair comparison to the proposed Pinnacle Ridge subdivision.

Cox previously worked as a planner at the city for 15 years, during which time she worked on the Pinnacle Ridge subdivision project. Most planners have worked on the subdivision at some point, she said, because it has been somewhat platted but vacant for years.

Cox said the subdivision had received preliminary approval in 2008 without the current conditions, but that approval expired in 2014 as development did not move forward.


COMMENTS

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What the City is asking is completely fair. The City has already had experience with roads failing in that immediate area, and has shouldered expense to repair them. This City is aware of the problems posed by the soils and steeps grades being proposed for the roads there, and they are prudently looking out for City taxpayers’ best interests. That’s eminently sensible and as a city taxpayer, I agree with and appreciate their decision. What’s more, if a developer is incapable of building a road in a subdivision that will last a minimum of seven years, they shouldn’t be in the business of building at all.

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