Voters get a look at Brady Trucking
Dilapidated buildings contaminated with asbestos and a murky pond occupied land near the Colorado River east of downtown Grand Junction before Brady Trucking bought a 13-acre parcel at the end of 27 1/2 Road.
Although the company cleaned up the remains of a rendering plant, it hasn’t been able to expand its operations, thanks to a zoning battle for the past five years.
Dozens of people spent Saturday morning milling about the property during a Brady Trucking-hosted open house punctuated with balloons, doughnuts, free T-shirts and yard signs seeking a yes vote on Referred Measure A.
The gathering was designed for voters who will decide at next month’s municipal election whether to grant the trucking company the industrial zoning it needs to expand.
“Yeah, it’s a trucking business, it’s industrial, but we’re not talking about a smelter or a steel mill,” Brady Trucking’s Vice President Chuck Johnson said before speaking to the crowd Saturday. “I don’t think people realize we’re giving up over an acre of land (for an easement). We want both. Business and to enjoy the riverfront.”
According to the ballot measure, residents will decide whether the easternmost portion of Brady’s property can be zoned industrial-office and the western portion can be zoned light industrial.
Brady Trucking, which already has a building and parks semitrailers on the northern portion of its site, has not been able utilize its property closest to the riverfront because of a back-and-forth zoning battle.
Opponents say they don’t have an issue specifically with Brady Trucking, but they believe industrial uses along the riverfront conflict with a vision to encourage recreation and wildlife along a corridor dotted with bike paths and open space.
A pedestrian bridge connecting to Eagle Rim Park on Orchard Mesa is directly south of the property.
When Brady Trucking purchased the land, it was zoned heavy industrial, but the land was annexed into the city and its zoning had to be reviewed. City councilors in 2008 approved light-industrial and industrial-office zoning, but a number of citizens headed by the advocacy group Western Colorado Congress gathered petitions to overturn the decision. That led to court battles.
Now the issue is in the voters’ hands. If voters deny the industrial uses for Brady Trucking’s land, the issue will revert to City Council for a decision.
At the site Saturday, Johnson roped off a path parallel to the river, illustrating the easement to be dedicated as a bike path. If the company is granted industrial zoning, it will construct a wall on its western boundary with Las Colonias Park, a roughly 100-acre swath of open space that stretches to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.
Brady Trucking also displayed two open storage tubs of clean sand, similar to the material company trucks haul to natural gas sites. There is never any hazardous waste on site, Johnson said.
“We carry sand and deliver it,” he said.
If industrial zoning is allowed, trucks will be parked on the western portion and some offices will be built on the eastern portion, although those offices may be leased to other companies. An expanded site may add 15 to 20 jobs, Johnson said.
Johnson said some folks opposed to having the area zoned for industrial uses worked with him recently to purchase the property, but no one was able to come up with the funds.
“If they want the property, write a check,” he said.