Group: Junkyard springing up

Citizens protest ‘blight' forming near Colorado River

Carolyn Emanuel, left, and Penny Heuscher walk along the bike path at the Blue Heron section of the Riverfront Trail as Carolyn’s husband Richard looks across the Redlands Parkway at the dozens of old cars in Western Towing’s lot.

After spending countless hours in years past rallying against the proliferation of junkyards near the Colorado River, a group of citizens is concerned a new one is forming on the Redlands Parkway.

About 100 wrecked cars contained inside a chain-link fence at land being leased by Western Towing & Recovery, 2381 1/2 River Road, are unsightly and could pose an environmental hazard to the river, Carolyn Emanuel said.

“We have the beautiful Colorado Monument and the river, and now we’re blighting one of our treasures,” Emanuel said. “It’s just odd that Grand Junction has this major river through it, and no one seems to care.”

Emanuel and some other citizens say the yard located on the north side of the Redlands Parkway across from the Blue Heron section of the Colorado Riverfront Trail has steadily been packing in more wrecked vehicles. They claim it degrades views and they question whether fluids from the vehicles could seep into the waterway.

The area is zoned I-1 light industrial and does not support that much vehicle storage, and the land owner, Mike Knowles, was issued a code-enforcement violation for it, according to city of Grand Junction Planning and Public Works Director Tim Moore.

Western Towing is attempting to gain a conditional-use permit to house vehicles there, and the issue is slated to go before planning commissioners in January.

The attorney for Mike Knowles, Dan Wilson, said his client wasn’t initially aware vehicles couldn’t be stored there until code enforcement stepped in.

Wilson said a joint operation by Western Towing and Knowles Enterprise is an effort at wholesale selling of wrecked cars, and vehicles will turn over as they’re sold. Vehicle conditions range from being flattened to those with more minimal front-end damage. The vehicles, which appear to be mostly newer models, are lined up as neatly as possible in rows on areas of the lot closest to the Parkway.

“It’s fair to say there’s going to be cars there, but what’s important to understand is that this isn’t a salvage operation,” Wilson said. “There won’t be repairs done there, and there won’t be salvage.”

Wilson said his client offered to build an 8-foot-high wall to house in the vehicles, but city planners did not want that probably because it would make the area more conspicuous. If the vehicle storage is allowed under a conditional-use permit, landscaping and a fence may be required.

That would make the area less of an eyesore, Emanuel said, but she is concerned about the industrial zone being allowed at all in that area. Opposite the lot, on the river side of the Parkway, the land is zoned for conservation. The two zones so near each other aren’t compatible, she said.

“We’ve spent too much money and too long trying to get junkyards off the river,” she said, referring to a major cleanup of the Jarvis property by the Fifth Street Bridge. “It would be great if city planners would consider rezoning the whole thing.”

Wilson said his client is attempting to come into compliance with the city’s specifications.

“I’ve seen a lot of yards in my day, and Mike Knowles’ is the neatest,” Wilson said.


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