The Northwest: Agriculture, estate homes and industrial development
The proximity to Interstate 70 and Highway 6 & 50 make the northwest area an ideal place for business. Historically, it’s been a good place for agriculture. As some farms gave way to housing, small three-to-five-acre estates have become the norm, at least north of I-70. Now it’s an area trying to determine what it wants to be when it grows up. “It’s challenging to plan there,” says Michael Warren, senior planner with Mesa County. “Some parts of the area are city and some are county. It adds to the confusing look of the area because the two have different standards.”
The city and the county work together to try and give a cohesive look to an area, but when areas are in transition, as much of the land in the Northwest is, it can be difficult. Both government entities want to protect and preserve the character of the Appleton area north of I-70 and protect the property values of homeowners who own small-acreage home sites.
Throw in the Persigo 201 Agreement, which determines which parts of the valley will be served by the Persigo wastewater treatment facility, and the entire process gets even murkier. Especially when the Persigo boundaries are expanded to include previously zoned rural areas. Such was the case with the recent zoning on a 100-acre parcel between 21 and 21 1/2 Road north of H Road.
“It was difficult because we expanded the 201 boundary without a plan,” says Lori Bowers, with the city of Grand Junction planning department. “There was a plan for part of the area, but not all of it. The plan stopped just south of the property.”
The parcel is surrounded by single-family homes on large lots to the east and the west, and industrial zoned land to the south. A group of investors purchased the land with the hope that it could be zoned industrial rather than agricultural or estate. Although neighbors formed a group to oppose the rezoning when it was first announced, by the time the issue was brought before the city council, opposition had faded.
“No one spoke up at the city council meeting to speak against it,” says Bowers, adding that the applicant had worked with the neighbors, promising strict covenants, as well as a generous berm and buffer zone.
“It’s a chance to finally have some affordable land for people to have industrial sites,” says Dale Beede, broker with Coldwell Banker Commercial Prime Properties, about the zoning change. “We’re all excited in the industrial real estate world to keep jobs coming in; we have room now to bring more jobs into the area.”
South of I-70, Tall Grass Commerce Center is under construction, offering 10 condominium office/warehouse units. The units, which should be complete by June, range in size from 2,633 to 3,062 square feet and would be ideal for distribution, light manufacturing or a warehouse space.
While some land in the northwest area is becoming commercial or industrial, there are plenty of residential areas north of I-70. Most of the homes in that area are outside of the Persigo boundary and sit on small acreage parcels, however. Agriculture remains an way of life in the area, as well, and it’s not uncommon to see cows, goats or chickens. While Palisade and East Orchard Mesa enjoy the reputation as the place to go for fruit, there are a few orchards in the northwest area, too, including Bolton’s Orchard, where Bruce Bolton grows apples, cherries and peaches.
When Bolton bought the orchard 10 years ago, there were very few houses near his orchard on L Road. Now, many small-acreage home sites surround his 15-acre orchard. “People are fighting for the area to remain agricultural,” says Bolton, who also grows vegetables on land he owns in Fruita and sells his produce at the Fruita Farmers Market. Most of Bolton’s 2008 apple crop is gone, but he still has what he calls “feed apples,” which may have wrinkled skin and a less-than-perfect exterior, but are great for animals. Or cooks who want to make pies and applesauce.
A 28-acre parcel near Bolton’s Orchard currently in alfalfa is for sale but is being platted for small-acreage estates. Jan Cooper, the listing agent for the lots, admits that the current real estate slowdown may put a temporary damper on the rush to buy small acreage parcels, but is confident that people will continue to be drawn to areas that offer a slice of wide open space with room to keep a horse. Like most of the area north of the freeway, those parcel are outside of the Persigo boundary, and homes must sit on larger lots to accommodate septic systems.
The northwest remains a great place for those who are want to get away from urban life, even as zoning changes occur in the south part of the area. The changes to the south mean that there are more services, stores, restaurants and job opportunities nearby, which is a big plus for many.