Council rejects building freeze

Dispute involves historic district, surrounding areas

A proposal to suspend development application filings within the oldest residential area in Grand Junction was turned away Monday night amidst concerns that it could choke off private investment during an economic downturn.

The City Council unanimously defeated a six-month moratorium on applications for changes in land use or zoning or for permits in the residential area between First and
12th streets and Grand and North avenues. The moratorium would not have affected home improvement projects such additions and garages.

City Councilwoman Teresa Coons offered to cut the moratorium period in half, but her motion died for lack of a second.

“Here we are in a very slow moving time, and my opinion is if just one person wanted to start doing daycare, they would not be allowed if this moratorium was put in place,”

Councilwoman Linda Romer Todd said. “(A moratorium) to me says ‘we’re out of business’ and that, to me, sends a horrible, horrible message.”

City officials floated the moratorium idea largely in response to a controversy along North Seventh Street. Grand Junction residents Harold and Kathleen Timmens have expressed interest in buying a home within the North Seventh Street Historic Residential District and converting it into a bed and breakfast.

The idea raised the hackles of historic district residents who contended a commercial enterprise could compromise a residential neighborhood important to the city’s history.

The issue was further complicated when city officials said there is no evidence that a plan that shielded the historic district from land use other than single-family homes was ever formally adopted 25 years ago.

The plan was developed simultaneously with the zoning assigned to the historic district in 1984 and required land-use changes to be approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. But under current city zoning codes, a bed and breakfast is permitted in a residential zone district and could be approved administratively.

City leaders had suggested the moratorium so that city planners and residents would have more time to confer and craft a plan that spells out appropriate land uses in the residential area of downtown. Those uses would be included within a broader growth plan that officials are on the verge of completing for the city’s Original Square Mile, of which the historic district is a part.

Gordon Nicholson, who lives outside the historic district but has led an effort to oppose the bed and breakfast, said the moratorium would allow an opportunity to establish protections for the historic residential uses in the area.

But others called the moratorium overreaching and said it would tarnish the work done the last few years to streamline the city’s development-review process.

“What are we trying to stop?” Councilman Gregg Palmer said. “A moratorium is fairly serious thing. I don’t see any need for one.”


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