Despite objections from neighbors, the Mesa County Board of Commissioners approved the rezoning of 58 acres north of Grand Junction Wednesday to build up to 29 new homes.
Dozens of neighbors near I and 24 roads told commissioners that the proposal was not consistent with other development in the region, and asked them to keep zoning as it is, which would have limited any housing development to no more than one home per 5 acres.
That would have allowed up to about a dozen homes to be built.
Some people feared that with the rezoning, nearly 60 homes could be built there, something the home developer said was not possible.
Nate Porter, whose company, Porter Homes, builds mostly custom-built homes throughout the Grand Valley, said many of the neighbors were using scare tactics in an attempt to stymie the project.
"I 100% understand the ... not-my-backyard mentality," he said. "It's impossible to get 58 one-acre lots because you have things called roads, (rights of way), infrastructure and easements. So 40 to 50% of property gets eaten up by those things."
Still, the Marasco family that owns the land said they planned only to build up to 29 homes on 1- to 3-acre lots and, to alleviate some neighbors' fears, agreed to a stipulation in the rezoning that there would be, on average, one home per 2 acres.
The owners also said they plan to incorporate open space within the parcel.
Several neighbors, some of whom stormed out of the commissioners' hearing room before a vote was taken, said that still wasn't good enough.
They said the county should take a stand against more development in the valley, saying it's losing its rural flavor far too fast.
"The quality of life that I have here is more important than what I could gain professionally or economically (elsewhere)," said Peter Maguire, a neighbor and veterinarian. "When I purchased my home on I 1/4 Road, I specifically looked at zoning and the way it was organized so that I would have the peace and quality of life for as long as I owned that home, which I plan to own until death."
Diane Gallegos, the wife of University of Colorado Regent Glen Gallegos and a nearby resident, said the proposed rezoning is not consistent with the county's existing comprehensive plan.
She said area residents look to that document as more than just a guideline in determining where they buy homes.
"The rezoning of one house per 1 to 3 acres is not balanced growth," she said. "This is not a development center. This is an AFT (agricultural, forestry, transitional) area. There are no services available in this area. It just doesn't fit."
The commissioners, however, said it's their job to balance the rights of a property owner with the needs of the rest of the community, saying the proposed development is a transition from higher-density homes to the south.
"We do appreciate all the comments from the neighbors that we have gotten, and the job of the board of commissioners is to balance private property rights with the interests of the neighbors," said Commissioner Rose Pugliese. "Development is coming to the north area. I think that's why you're seeing a lot more development."
The rezoning passed on a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Scott McInnis casting the lone dissenting vote.
The project still has to go through several more stages before it can be approved, including site plans and design work, all of which are subject to public review and comment.