Zoning dust-up may go to voters
Residents collect 1,864 signatures
The controversy over the zoning of three parcels of land owned by an oil field services company next to the Colorado River is moving closer toward being decided by Grand Junction voters.
City officials confirmed this week Western Colorado Congress members and other Mesa County residents who organized a petition drive to oppose industrial zoning for Brady Trucking’s property along the riverfront in south downtown collected just enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot.
The group, which needed 1,860 signatures, turned in petitions containing 2,608 signatures. City Clerk Stephanie Tuin accepted 1,864 signatures.
Tuin said more than 700 signatures were rejected for a variety of reasons, including the fact that those who signed don’t live in the city, left out required information or moved and didn’t change their address.
“We don’t have a landslide or a mandate, but we got a lot of people out there that are really concerned about the situation,” said Candi Clark, a resident of Orchard Mesa and one of the petition circulators.
In a letter sent to two group members, Tuin wrote that 92 of the 130 petition sections that were submitted did not include the county or state where the petition circulator lives. Although the missing information constitutes a “defect” under a strict reading of state law, Tuin wrote, it isn’t enough to disqualify the petitions.
“The City Attorney advised me that it is his opinion that the omission is insubstantial and that the petitions not be disqualified solely on those omissions,” Tuin wrote. “Inclusion of the circulators city and zip (sic) code does allow the reviewer enough information to determine the circulator meets the requirements of the statute.”
Brady Trucking Operations Manager Russ Justice said Thursday the company will review the petitions and could file a protest. Any registered city voter has until Dec. 3 to protest the petitions.
“We don’t believe zoning should go through voters,” Justice said. “It should go through the due process that has been set up.”
The city’s charter, however, contains provisions that allow residents to seek to overturn City Council zoning decisions.
The petitions will be referred to the council, which will either vote on whether to approve the mixed-use zoning sought by the group or refer the issue to the ballot. Tuin said the earliest that council members would consider the matter is Dec. 3, although that date almost certainly would be pushed back if a protest is filed.
Mayor Gregg Palmer said it seems more likely the council would allow voters to decide the zoning, given the council stalemate that happened earlier this year.
“My personal view is that since they’ve asked that it go to the ballot, rather than possibly have a 3-3 tie again, I would prefer to see it on the ballot,” he said.
The council deadlocked 3-3 in June on how to zone the nearly 13 acres Brady Trucking owns at 347 27 1/2 Road, 348 27 1/2 Road and 2757 C 1/2 Road. Three months later, Councilwoman Teresa Coons broke the tie, and the council agreed to zone two parcels industrial-office and one parcel light industrial.
Neighbors objected to the zoning, alleging industrial zoning is inappropriate given years worth of work to clean up the riverfront.
The petitions that were circulated contained two questions: whether to overturn the council’s decision and whether to implement mixed-use zoning.
A showdown could ensue if the council places measures on an upcoming ballot. The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce has vowed to mount a campaign to oppose efforts to repeal the industrial-office and light-industrial zone districts.