County frets about zoning on 30 Road property

Use restrictions make sale of plot more difficult, commissioners say

Frustrated Mesa County commissioners say they may ask the city of Grand Junction to change the zoning on county-owned land in Fruitvale, alleging attempts to sell the land for development have been hampered by city zoning restrictions.

Commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland voted Monday not to offer to sell the 5.33-acre property at 492 30 Road to Littleton-based Oman Enterprises LLC for more than $300,000 less than the listed price. Commissioner Steve Acquafresca was absent from the meeting.

The county purchased the land, which was originally 5.88 acres in size, for more than $200,000 in 2001 as part of a reconstruction of 30 Road that created an underpass under the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The tract is on the east side of 30 Road, south of the Interstate 70 Business Loop and the railroad tracks and north of E Road.

County officials applied to the city to rezone the land from agricultural forestry transitional to commercial in March 2006 in anticipation of selling the portion of the property that wasn’t used for the underpass. The City Council chose instead to zone it neighborhood business, which allows for less-intensive types of commercial development.

Stacey Mascarenas, property agent for the county, told commissioners the county has had two contracts with prospective buyers since then. Both times, though, the buyers terminated the contracts because they couldn’t develop the land as they had planned.

Mascarenas and Senta Costello, senior planner for the city, said one developer sought to build apartments but couldn’t get enough density to make the project profitable. Neither knew exactly what the other prospective buyer wanted to do with the land.

Most recently, the county has been negotiating with Oman Enterprises, which Mascarenas said wants to create a small shopping center. The county’s offer to Oman Enterprises, which commissioners rejected, would have given the company the option to buy the land for $536,580. In addition, the company would have had a year to go through the city’s planning process and market the lots.

But Meis, noting that the land has been listed for $850,000 since 2006, said the county may be better off waiting until the local real-estate market rebounds. In the meantime, he said the county has lost out on two potential sales of the land and the city is missing out on sales tax.

“I’m very concerned the city chose just to get bull-headed on it,” Meis said.

Costello, though, suggested zoning isn’t the problem with the property.

“The B-1 zone district is pretty tolerant of a lot of things,” she said. “It doesn’t allow drive-through restaurants or higher-impact commercial uses, but it doesn’t preclude a lot of things.”

Both Costello and county officials acknowledged there are limitations in how the land can be accessed.

In other business, commissioners awarded a $1.2 million contract to Extreme Construction of Grand Junction to replace two bridges and realign a half-mile stretch of 4 Road for sight-distance improvements. A $500,000 federal grant will pay for part of the project.


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