Earlier this year, we pointed out the obvious — that elected officials can't be against both density and sprawl — earning an earful from the Grand Junction City Council while defending recent zoning decisions for the Maverick annexation and the Burkey Park property.
But the council's Sept. 29 op-ed in the Sentinel, signed by all councilors except Anna Stout and Phyllis Norris, concluded by acknowledging changes are needed:
"The city is developing a new Comprehensive Plan to replace the existing, 10-year old plan and is in dialogue with the county about possible changes to the Persigo agreement. Changes to the Zoning and Development Code may follow. Collectively that work should provide a new road map for future development that will avoid the collision of our current land use requirements with consistent planned growth."
We were glad to hear that the city is taking steps to reduce tensions related to growth because development is coming at an increasing pace — and not just inside the city limits.
Governments make comprehensive plans to guide growth, but they retain authority to rezone areas on a case-by-case basis in a public process — something Mesa County commissioners did Wednesday when they approved, 2-1, the rezoning of 58 acres north of Grand Junction 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 area, 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.
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.
That's a sound way of looking at things as far as we're concerned. Commissioners allowed the property owners to develop their land, but at the reasonable density of one home per 2 acres. The NIMBY element wants to preserve low densities forever, but that's not a realistic way of accommodating growth, especially near the city boundaries.
These kinds of rezoning requests are arguably a good problem to have because they reflect a growing community — one with demands for more housing and services. But they're always controversial because people want to preserve the elbow room they've always had. Indeed, many chose to live in that area because of the existing low density.
While, we're sympathetic to their concerns, commissioners are tasked with making the tough decisions. We think Commissioners Rose Pugliese and John Justman struck a good balance, unpopular though it might be with area residents.