Truckin’ on the riverfront

Last week’s decision by the Grand Junction City Council to allow light industrial zoning for a portion of Brady Trucking’s property along the Colorado River in south downtown was no doubt a difficult one.

We believe it was also the wrong decision.

City officials and City Council members have offered a variety of reasons over the past few months to explain why the zoning ought to be approved, including the fact Brady had a reasonable expectation that such zoning would be allowed when it purchased the property.

Most recently, Councilwoman Teresa Coons, whose switched position in favor of the zoning allowed it to win approval Thursday, said she feared a lawsuit by Brady if it wasn’t approved.

But none of these explanations deals with the fundamental issues raised by a multitude of folks in this community. To wit:

We’ve spent 20-plus years working hard and spending public money to turn the Colorado Riverfront into an attractive, natural amenity for this community. Why are we now allowing a new industrial operation in that river corridor? Why did Brady have an expectation industrial zoning would be approved when it bought the land? Will this precedent inevitably lead to more industrial development along the riverfront?

A group of citizens who have asked such questions and are upset by the council’s decision may try to have voters overturn the zoning through a citizens’ initiative on the city ballot. That is their right under the city charter.

None of this is meant as an indictment of Brady. The trucking firm has worked appropriately within the city rules to obtain the zoning it wanted, spent a great deal of money to clean up the old rendering plant and proposed a number of measures to screen its operations from visitors on the riverfront.

But we do think there are serious questions about what the City Council’s long-term vision for the riverfront really is, and what the city will do to enforce that vision. City residents have every reason to expect clear answers to those questions from their council members.


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