Why annexation makes sense for Fruitvale and Clifton
Petition circulators are making their way through the Phase I area of Clifton/Fruitvale proposed for annexation to the city of Grand Junction. If enough petitions are signed by property owners, the application will be submitted to the City Council for its consideration.
As residents of Clifton/Fruitvale and as members of the Clifton/Fruitvale Governance Committee that has worked on the issue for the past two years, we urge our neighbors to join with us in supporting annexation for the betterment of our community. Phase I, the first area where petitions are being circulated, is roughly east of 31 Road, north of Orchard (E 1/2 Road) and west of the I-70 business loop as it approaches the Clifton interchange on I-70.
Efforts in past years to annex the area failed, but times have changed. Since those times, Fruitvale and Clifton have grown at a fast pace and have become more urbanized. We don’t live in farming country anymore. Many neighborhoods have houses built on very small lots. Increased density brings increasing chances of conflict.
To us and the other members of the governance committee, the clear direction is to move forward. We don’t want to be part of the problem. Instead, we prefer to be part of the solution.
First and foremost, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department is increasingly overstretched trying to provide urban levels of service when sheriff’s offices are inherently designed to patrol in and respond to rural concerns. The sheriff’s service area covers 3,300 square miles of Mesa County, including Gateway, Glade Park, Mack and Mesa.
The sheriff has one deputy per 1,000 people in Mesa County, compared with the city of Grand Junction’s two officers per 1,000 city resident. If our petitions are successful, the city’s police force can gradually build up to provide us the same level of law enforcement service city residents currently enjoy.
Another factor that weighs heavily with us is the simple streetlight. The county does not provide streetlights; the city does. Streetlights provide for safer neighborhoods, where all of us can feel more comfortable visiting our neighbors or walking our dogs in the evening.
When we first joined the committee as it embarked on a study of governance for the Clifton/Fruitvale area, we leaned toward having our own city. It would be independent of Grand Junction, smaller and more attentive to our needs.
However, reality set in as we viewed the financial projections. To be annexed into the city of Grand Junction, property taxes would rise about $23 per $100,000 in valuation for residential property. To incorporate the area as its own municipality, it would cost a residential property owner an additional tax of nearly $83 per $100,000 of valuation. Even with that kind of heavy tax increase required for incorporation, the resulting revenue still might not be enough to provide quality municipal services as a stand-alone city.
Based on the fiscal analysis, we believe annexation into Grand Junction is the best way for our neighborhoods in Clifton/Fruitvale to get the increased law enforcement protection and other municipal services we need and want. Annexation would bring better code enforcement to alleviate the occasional eyesores we see in the area — things like junk cars and weeds higher than 6-foot fences, because the city has more employees working in code enforcement than the county does. There would be sidewalks when safety concerns require them, and opportunities to work with the city for expanded curbs and gutters where residents want them.
One of the most popular services Grand Junction offers its residents is the annual spring cleanup, which not only provides residents with a convenient way to have their yard waste and throw-away items picked up at no cost, it helps improve the overall look and condition of neighborhoods. Regular street sweeping and leaf pickup are other services the city provides.
We came to the conclusion that we have to help ourselves, and requesting annexation into the city of Grand Junction is the best available way to do it.