Base of Mt. Garfield in Grand Junction for sale |

Base of Mt. Garfield in Grand Junction for sale

Marija B. Vader
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” A piece of controversial dirt at the base of Mt. Garfield remains for sale.

Both the seller, Jim Leany, and a potential buyer, Mesa County, claim the other party won’t negotiate.

Mesa County took a photograph of the sign on the property that advertised it for $165,000, then attached that photo to an offer for that amount.

County officials said that’s when the communication stopped.

The 50 acres lies at the base of Mt. Garfield, one of the unique landmarks of the Grand Valley. For several months, a hand-painted sign advertised the property for sale by owner with Leany’s cell number.

Leany said Wednesday he wants $455,000 for it and has two willing buyers, but he’d rather sell the property to the county.

“I want them to take the first crack,” Leany said. “I know there will be a public outcry.”

Because he owns other property in Mesa County, Leany said he wants to be able to work with county officials in the future.

“I want to be known as a player … I want you to play ball with me because you can trust me,” Leany said. “My cards will always be face up. If you do the same for me, I think we’ll be able to put this together.”

But according to county officials, after the county submitted its offer, it hasn’t heard from Leany.

“We had a contract that gave him until April 8 on the $165,000. He didn’t respond to that,” said County Administrator Jon Peacock.

“The county never heard back from him,” said Commissioner Steve Acquafresca. “We were kind of disappointed.”

Acquafresca and his commissioner colleagues said Mesa County would own the land to keep it from development. But only at a decent price.

The commissioners and Peacock pointed out the property is zoned ATF, or ag-forest-transitional, so industrial uses would not be permitted there without county permission.

“For activities other than ag or the development of a single residence, it would require a permit from the county. The county certainly has oversight authority,” Acquafresca said.

“Even if he sells it to someone else, the issue of industrial parking out there is not an issue because it’s not an appropriate use in that zone,” said Commissioner Janet Rowland.

Acquafresca said when the public became intrigued by the land being for sale and the county’s possible interest, “I believe the owner then contacted the county with a greatly increased figure,” Acquafresca said.

“It’s not worth that,” said Rowland of the $455,000. “He asked us for $800,000 at one point. That’s highway robbery.”

Commissioner Craig Meis said he would “probably not” be willing to pay $455,000 for the land. “I can’t even imagine that property is even worth that.”

“We need to make sure we’re paying a fair price for the property,” Peacock said.

“When it was advertised for $165,000 and now it’s advertised for 450,000 … I’m not willing to offer $450,000 without knowing what it’s worth.”

Mesa County ordered a third-party appraisal, and the results should come back soon, he said.

“I suspect it’s not going to come back that high,” Peacock said.

The county would buy the land to protect the viewshed.

“It’s a high-visibility property … I believe everyone is very accustomed to seeing Mt. Garfield, including the base as it’s always existed,” Acquafresca said, adding he likes the idea of buying the parcel “not to prohibit all development, but to protect the traditional viewshed.”

Rowland said the county would do “really nothing” with it, “just to ensure it stays just as it is.”

Energy Services, a well-drilling support company is “not out of the picture yet,” as a buyer, Leany said. “If the county does not buy it, they will buy it and develop it.”

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