Gateway Canyons expansion approved
The Mesa County Commission on Tuesday approved an expansion of Gateway Canyons Resort, adding 42 acres that will be used primarily for employee housing and parking and resort support services.
Commissioners Steve Acquafresca and Craig Meis also agreed to lift some restrictions that won’t require the resort to fully develop within a limited time frame or apply for a county permit for large events. Commissioner Janet Rowland was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Gateway Canyons owner John Hendricks acquired the additional parcels on the west and southeast ends of the development, located on Colorado Highway 141 about 50 miles southwest of Grand Junction. With the expansion, the resort’s boundaries will grow to nearly 227 acres.
The resort grew steadily in size after it opened in 2005. But when the local economy began to sour late in 2008, resort executives laid off about one-third of their work force and suspended plans to build a golf course, an 80-unit guest facility and an employee dormitory. The resort did press ahead and complete the Palisade Event Center and the Mission Bell Amphitheater last year, and another restaurant, the Entrada Restaurant and Lounge, is slated to open this year.
The resort’s original planned unit development, which commissioners approved in 2005, called for seven construction phases and mandated that if any portion of any phase of development wasn’t completed by 2020, that portion of the plan would lapse, and the resort would have to apply to amend the plan and extend construction.
Commissioners agreed to eliminate the lapse provision for all but one area of the resort after Hendricks’ attorney, John Williams, argued it didn’t make sense.
“If John wants to build a spa in 2050, he should be able to do that,” Williams said.
The one exception to the lapse provision is a roughly 15-acre site on the west side of the resort that officials set aside for a 78-unit residential subdivision that would be available for sale to the public. Williams said the resort is agreeable to that section reverting to open space if it’s not developed in 10 years.
Commissioners also scrapped a condition that compelled Gateway Canyons to apply for an $80 temporary-use permit for events expected to draw more than 500 people. Williams estimated the resort hosts two or three such events annually.
Meis said he doesn’t think such a permit is necessary anymore, given the growth of the resort and its ability to handle things like traffic control and sanitary services.
“We’re making a requirement of them that we’re probably not making of like facilities,” he said.
Gateway Property Owners Association President Jackie Bevan said although traffic enforcement has improved and she’s not aware of any increase in crime associated with resort growth, some area land owners remain worried about a lack of a consistent law-enforcement presence.
“The more the resort expands and the more people that come in there, I still think it’s going to be a concern of the community,” she said.