Residents of Loma want to keep town lean

Residents living in the far west end of the Grand Valley approved increasing the size of the Lower Valley Fire Protection District by one-third, but a recent survey of Loma residents indicates that’s about all they want expanded.

The fire district won expansion by a 40-19 vote this week. The district now spans from 24 Road on the east, the state line on the west, Highline Canal to the south and the Garfield County line to the north.

“It adds another element to manage the growth out there,” Lower Valley Chief Frank Cavaliere said.

The election was held amid the backdrop of an ongoing effort to devise a Loma community plan, to designate where future industrial, residential, commercial and open space should be encouraged and to establish densities. A recent survey, by Olsson Associates, showed a community desirous of fire protection, some commercial development, but little else other than to preserve the rural character of the area.

“It is a tough balancing act,” said Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis, who has been participating in Loma’s planning process. “They are going to have to weigh the cost benefit.”

Many of Loma’s estimated 1,500 residents want some urban level services such as sewerage and commercial businesses. But to have that, some of Loma’s rural character may have to be sacrificed.

Susan Brach, who lives in the 1400 block of 12 1/2 Road, said she’d appreciate having a place to buy a gallon of milk.

“Loma has always been country, and that is the way it should stay,” she said. But “we are going to have to trade something.”

Perhaps no one has been more involved with the planning process than Pat and Dale Bittle.

Both agree the community needs sewer service, especially north of M Road, where the soil is not conducive to septic systems. How to get a sewer, though, is the nagging question.

“Loma needs this sewer,” Pat Bittle said.

Paying for the sewerage requires a certain density of businesses and homes. That’s in conflict with residents’ overarching desire to remain a rural community.

Whatever decision is made will have to come from the community, Meis said.

“It is not in my interest, or the county’s interest, to not have a plan that is of the people, by the people and for the people of Loma,” he said.


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