Chamber backs trucking firm
Business group says Brady Trucking’s plans should get green light
In a stance that firmly backs Brady Trucking’s push for industrial zoning along the Colorado River, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted to oppose allowing voters to change zoning decisions made by local elected officials.
The board voted 14-0 earlier this month to oppose any effort that asks voters to overturn local boards’ decisions on how property should be zoned.
Chamber President Diane Schwenke said Tuesday those efforts infringe upon private property rights and discourage local businesses from investing in the community.
“What this does, in fact, is it opens the doorway to anyone who doesn’t like a zoning decision made by a public body to take their cause to the electorate,” Schwenke said.
The chamber’s action comes in response to Western Colorado Congress and other Mesa County citizens putting together a petition drive to reverse the Grand Junction City Council’s decision last month to assign light industrial and industrial-office park zoning to nearly 13 acres near 27 1/2 and C 1/2 roads.
The property is owned by Utah-based Brady Trucking, a heavy equipment and oil field services company that hauls sand used in drilling.
The petitions, signed by more than 2,500 people, seek to cancel the council’s decision and instead zone the land mixed-use. Petitioners claim industrial zoning constitutes an inappropriate land use along the river and goes against years worth of work to restore the area.
The chamber also vowed to mount an opposition campaign should any ballot measures appear during an upcoming city election.
Russ Justice, operations manager for Brady Trucking, applauded the chamber’s position and said he fears other businesses could be targeted by citizens who don’t agree with how their property is zoned.
“I think the chamber is absolutely correct,” he said. “I mean, how much of this do we have to go through to figure out who’s next? Who is the next target of this special-interest group?”
Justice said Brady has spent more than $300,000 to remove a rendering plant that used to operate on the land and clean up the property, and the company donated a 50-foot easement along the river and made other concessions to screen the property and retain recreational access to the river.
Bennett Boeschenstein, a member of Western Colorado Congress and a former planning director for Mesa County, Grand Junction and Fruita, said the chamber’s position is flawed. He said state law allows citizens to use the initiative and referendum process to propose legislation independent of elected officials, noting local residents repealed zoning that the City Council assigned to City Market’s property at 12th Street and Patterson Road in the late 1990s.
“It’s a right citizens have,” he said.
Boeschenstein said petitioners have nothing against Brady and hope the company can find a site where it can expand its operations.
“It’s really a larger planning issue,” he said. “How should our riverfront be developed?”