Council within rights to restrict density of development

Scores of neighbors to a proposed development north of the city showed up at Wednesday's meeting of the Grand Junction City Council to vent against the project, many displeased with what they said was density that runs counter to the rest of the area.

While R-4 — or about four dwelling units per acre — was what the developer of Maverick Estates wanted for the former sod farm north of H Road between 24 and 24½ roads, councilors eventually passed a measure establishing less-dense R-1, or one dwelling unit per acre, for the parcel.

The change was hardly anticipated, but Thursday city planning staff clarified that the last-minute change was well within the purview of the council, as it had been officially annexed into the city earlier in the meeting.

"The council actually reserves the right to zone that property … anything within the confines of the Comprehensive Plan," said Tamra Allen, the city's community development director.

"There's a broad range of zone districts that they can consider as part of that, and certainly the R-1 zone district was one of those that they could apply," she said.

The plan Allen refers to is the city- and county-approved 2010 Comprehensive Plan. That plan designates a future use of the property of two to four dwelling units per acre, so the R-1 zoning is even less dense than that.

Attorney Rich Livingston, representing the applicant, GJ Maverick Investments LLC, relented during Wednesday's meeting, telling the crowd that his client "can make it work with an R-2 zoning."

After council voted to annex the property, a measure to establish that R-2 zoning was defeated 7 to 2, with only Mayor Pro Tem Duke Wortmann and Councilor Anna Stout voting in favor of the measure.

Council took another swing after that, and unanimously approved the R-1 zoning most neighbors had been seeking.

The question of whether the developer will still seek to develop the property under a zoning that Livingston implied would not work naturally arises.

Allen said she spoke with someone representing the development about it, but couldn't divulge the plans.

Livingston did not return a call Thursday seeking that information.

According to the Colorado Secretary of State's office, the registered agent for GJ Maverick Investments LLC is Grand Junction resident Steven Hejl.

Numerous neighbors to the property noted Wednesday that the parcel is up for sale — it's listed with real estate company NextHome — and wondered whether Hejl is merely speculating to flip the property for a profit.

Recommended for you