Featured Area: Clifton
Although Clifton has its own wastewater treatment plant, its own water services and its own fire department, Clifton is not a municipality. The density in some parts of Clifton are as high as areas in cities, but Clifton is in an unincorporated part of Mesa County.
Although some residents want more urban amenities like sidewalks, streetlights and a municipal police force, there is not enough consensus among residents to do anything other than maintain the status quo. The majority of residents have chosen not to incorporate as a separate town and they have made it clear they do not want to be incorporated into the city of Grand Junction.
Because it is an urban area within Mesa County, Clifton is dependent on the county for services like roads and law enforcement. It’s also dependent on the Mesa County Commissioners to manage growth and set policy.
“In recent years, Mesa County has been at war with Clifton,” said Steve Acquafresca, one of three Mesa County commissioners and the only one who will not be term-limited this November. “The board has developed policies that will stunt growth in Clifton. If we want to see Clifton become more self-reliant, we should encourage growth, not suppress it.”
Although some feel that Clifton receives more than its share from county coffers, Acquafresca points out that all Grand Valley residents use the roads that run through Clifton and the county sheriff has never asked for additional resources to use in the area.
“They manage Clifton and they do it quite well,” Acquafresca said. “There are a number of other counties in the state that have urbanized areas within the county and they manage. It’s our responsibility to manage well.”
As the remaining holdover commissioner, Acquafresca said he is pro-Clifton.
“If you’re going to ask to be a county commissioner in this county, you need to be prepared to help Clifton.”
In the last year, county commissioners have approved rezoning for only one project in the Clifton area, a Blue Star Industries development called Cumberland Trails at E 1/2 and 32 1/2. It will include 60 single-family homes on 10 acres.
“It’s a very high-density area,” said Kim Kerk, development manager for Blue Star. “We could build multi-family there as well, but that’s not our niche.”
As is its custom, Blue Star is proceeding slowly and hopes to start infrastructure development by September, 2013.
“By the time we get through the development stage, we hope the economy will have improved steadily and there will be a greater demand for an affordable single-family home project,” Kerk said.
Blue Star is also working to build 19 homes on a four-acre piece of property at 32 1/2 and E Road. There is an existing home on the property and the company is remodeling the home with the intent to sell it by February 2013. Infrastructure construction for the remaining homes probably won’t start until the end of 2013.
Clifton presents its own unique challenges to business owners like Jim Cagle, who owns the Subway in the Peach Tree Shopping Center in Clifton and who owned the nearby Smashburger franchise. Although Subway does a great business, Smashburger failed. Cagle opened Uncle Nubs Bayou Grill and Bar in the same shopping center last December. Uncle Nubs is not a chain restaurant, and it serves barbecue, catfish, burgers, wings and a few other specialty items like fried pickles and okra.
“Business has been pretty good,” Cagle said, although he said lunch time can present a few challenges. Because there aren’t many nearby businesses, he doesn’t get much of a crowd at the noon hour. He’s recently added a $7.99 lunch special with items like chicken fried steak, hot beef sandwiches and pot roast in hopes of attracting more lunch customers.
As a business owner who pays taxes, Cagle appreciates the improvements the county has made in the area.