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Logging company loses battle to rezone 10 acres near Carpenter Natural Area

Cortez City Council members say they need to look out for environment and nearby residents
The stars represent the proposed rezoning areas for the Independent Logging Co. at 1050 Lebanon Road. Courtesy of Cortez City planner Nancy Dosdall

The Cortez City Council voted against rezoning 1050 Lebanon Road from commercial to industrial, making it more difficult for the Independent Logging Co. to continue with operations but giving peace of mind to nearby residents and ensuring that the Carpenter Natural Area continues to be environmentally sound.

After six months from applying, the husband-and-wife team of Anthony Moore and Mary Lancaster presented themselves during the City Council meeting Tuesday to explain why rezoning would be a beneficial decision for the city.

Before the community went in depth about the application, City Attorney Patrick Coleman talked about how the process could be considered as a spot zone, if it were a smaller size. But the 10-acre parcel that nestles up to the Montview neighborhood and open space is too big for spot zoning.

Moore and Lancaster bought the vacant old drive-in movie theater property in 2021, thinking it would be perfect for their company to operate.

During a nearly four-hour City Council meeting, Moore and Lancaster presented their case to rezone the property from commercial to industrial while residents expressed their concerns and council members made their vote.

Cortez’s City Planner, Nancy Dosdall, mentioned that the rezoning policy declaration said, “For the purpose of establishing and maintaining sound, stable and desirable development within the city, the rezoning of land is discouraged.”

Lancaster began by reading a letter that stated how Moore is highly qualified because of all the service he has done for the community and how the business has kept account for the entire process of applying.

His accolades include being recognized during the Pine Gulch Fire that he helped extinguish and how he protected Grand Junction homes for 21 days.

“He’s made a name for himself as a firefighter and a logger,” Lancaster said. “His equipment is in excellent working condition for public service.”

Moore then took over and spoke with grandiose about his accolades as a track runner in Cortez’s high school and how that’s continued throughout his life as a wildfire fighter and mitigator.

“We are a resource that is needed in this community,” Moore said. “I’ve won medals. I’ve put out fires.”

To Moore and Lancaster, the 10 acre is the perfect piece of property since it’s accessible to the highway.

He explained that he tested the noise levels and that the company’s sounds wouldn’t impede the neighborhood because in comparison, the highway is next to the neighborhood.

Nostalgically he talked about his childhood and how he dreamed of having property like the 10 acres he owns and all the property he currently owns “ain’t for sale.”

Afterward, Lancaster shared the timeline to council members that showed “every step of every month of every year” about how they were engaged to get their application approved.

“It’s been very challenging to figure out the codes,” she said.

On top of the logistics, she pointed out that the San Juan National Forest is stressed and a “recipe for disaster,” which is why the rezoning should happen so ILC can adequately help the region.

She said they fought 17 fires in the past two years and the company removed 98 dead and dying semitrailer loads of trees from the forest.

In response, 24 citizens voiced their opinions on the rezoning application.

Jennifer Singer, who lives in the outskirts of Dolores, said that her group, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, enjoys the Carpenter Natural Area and that already nearby residents object to the noise pollution from the mill nearby.

“Please don’t change the zoning in the Carpenter Natural Area,” she said.

Carol Taylor, a nearby resident, said changing the zoning to industrial from commercial would bring adverse impacts. She said that proposed uses are incompatible with the area on noise and light pollution and fumes, and it impacts the quality of life.

“Proposed uses are incompatible in maintaining the serenity and character of Carpenter Natural Area,” she said.

Last, Eric Reiser, a resident of North Chestnut above the proposed property, said adverse impacts definitely would exist, and he asked the council to deny the application.

“There are better places for the company,” he said.

Before the City Council voted, they talked about how they hoped Moore’s six other properties could fulfill some of ILC’s needs and that going from commercial to industrial wouldn’t be the right move. They also said that although they trust ILC to be environmentally friendly, they don’t know how the next industrial operation on that land would handle the area and they needed to look out for the rest of the community when it comes to rezoning.

In response, Moore said it doesn’t matter if it’s industrial or commercial, as long as they can continue their operations.

“Right now what we proposed in our packet, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “It’s the perfect location. We are first responders, and we need a place to put our equipment.”

Mayor Rachel Medina said that if the council denied the rezoning, it doesn’t mean that nothing can happen on the land, but they do need to look out for the community.

“In the future, a temporary asphalt plant could happen, an animal shelter, an electrical plant, this would be impactful to the residents,” she said.

Acknowledging that, Moore said that if ILC can’t do everything that’s in the packet, he’ll be right back at the council and won’t stop trying to get his application approved, no matter how many times it takes.

“It’s my land,” he said. “We’d like to move forward tonight. We’ve been at this for two-and-a-half years.”

Council members denied the ordinance (1322 Series 2023) because the existing zoning is consistent as is and the proposed zoning is not compatible with the residential area.

This article was republished on Oct. 6 to correct the previous article.