II. Approval of Agenda
** This month marked David Gomez's last as representative from the Western Environmental Law Center. Thanks, David, for all of your hard work and dedication over the last three years!
IV. Continuing Business
A. Presentation on Urban-Wilderness Interface
Scheduled speaker Ernie Lopez from the New Mexico Forestry Division did not attend this meeting. It was suggested that CNA put some more thought into who to invite to speak on this topic, perhaps inviting representatives from several state agencies. Due to time constraints, discussion was tabled until the August meeting.
B. Landfill / Groundwater Contamination
John Weckerle of Coalition for a Better Taos (CBT), who has for several months been investigating the proposed expansion of the Las Colonias landfill, presented concerns about both the selection of the landfill site and the effects of proposed operations as delineated in the town's permit application. A 1996 study conducted by the Taos County Inter-Governmental Council (IGC) deemed this site the worst of 19 locations under consideration, due in part to the complex hydrogeology of the site and the unpredictable spread of groundwater contamination. Several small watercourses and arroyos are present on the site, yet such surface water received no mention on the permit application. Groundwater samples at the landfill have shown the presence of toluene, a toxin, and concern has also been raised over the use of a composite polyethylene lining for the landfill. The EPA's studies of such linings conclude that though they may slow the process of groundwater contamination, they do not prevent it completely. In addition, point source leaks from such linings may lead to a narrow stream of contamination that escapes detection by early warning monitoring wells. Weckerle urged CNA members to contact the Taos Council, the IGC, and Taos County Commission with their concerns. More information can be found at www.wecktech.com.
C. Traditional Historic Communities
As requested at the July 2000 CNA meeting, David Gomez of the Western Environmental Law Center has begun drafting an ordinance that 1) defines criteria for THCs within Taos County, and 2) outlines the process by which communities can be designated as such. This discussion draft is being sent as an attachment to the minutes and will also be posted on the CNA website and distributed on the CNA listserv.
V. New Business
A. Open-Pit Sewage dumps
Residents living next to open-pit sewage dumps by the airport brought forward public health concerns related to toxic wastes being deposited so near their homes. Although Taos' waste treatment sewage plant treats the city's raw sewage, septic tanks and restaurant grease trappings are dumped into these open pits. Julia Pyatt, who has lived next to the twelve-cell pit for five years with her two small children, spoke of her family's eye infections and rashes. She believes these chronic health problems to be consistent with symptoms caused by exposure to toxins such as formaldehyde. Gates to the open pits are often left unlocked, posing a threat to neighborhood children and animals. Dogs have been spotted wallowing in the pits, then tracking waste material into residential yards. Monitoring of nearby wells has been rejected as "not economically feasible," and nearby residents are left wondering if toxins are contaminating their groundwater supply. CNA members suggested that concerned residents go straight to the top, presenting state officials at the environment department with photographs and video that document pollution. Another strategy would be to lobby area restaurants who have their grease trappings hauled to these open-pit dumps.
B. Consideration of August Speakers
Representatives from two area nonprofits who give presentations to community groups called WELC wondering if CNA would be an appropriate venue to present their information. CNA members seemed to feel that it would be best for each individual neighborhood association to contact these groups if they wish a presentation for their neighborhood meetings:
1) Rocky Mountain Youth Corps gives presentations on how to test for radon contamination in your home using a simple kit. A neighborhood association who has already heard Scott speak deemed the presentation very worthwhile. Contact Scott Evans, 751-1420 x46, cell 758-5338, firstname.lastname@example.org.
2) Taos Regional Partnership for Community Justice can speak to neighborhood associations about how to design a community forum on restorative justice or how to become trained as a community facilitator. For more information, contact Thom Allena, 758-7950, email@example.com.
C. County Commission Reports
At the most recent meeting, there were indications that comprehensive planning issues, including the land use ordinance, water scarcity, and subdivision regulations, may soon be revisited by the commission. It was noted that CNA must be alert to potential changes to the land use plan. Under state law, the county commission has merely to publish a notice of the general intent of any amendment to the land use ordinance. They are under no obligation whatsoever to hold public hearings on proposed changes (See attached statute NMSA 1978 §3-21-14).
The attendance of CNA members at upcoming meetings when land use is on the agenda was highly encouraged. When a motion to end collective bargaining was raised by the Commission last week, the presence of the Molycorp union and other labor rights proponents led the commission to reconsider, and the motion was withdrawn. This incident was cited as an example of how having key people attend commission meetings can influence the course of events.
The County Commission meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays of every month at 10 am. The agenda is usually available the preceding Wednesday, or Friday at the latest. CNA attendees felt that efforts should be made to disseminate this agenda to CNA members so they know when land use issues will be discussed. Arthur Yellen agreed to obtain the agenda from the county on a weekly basis. Those who wish to be on a phone tree to receive notification when land use is on the agenda should call Kirsten at WELC (751-0351).
New Mexico statutes and constitutional provisions regarding the expansion of the county commission to five members and the process for amendment of the Taos County land use regulations will be included as an attachment to these minutes.
D. Neighborhood Association Reports
Taos Canyon: Has petitioned for consolidation into one county commission district and one precinct, and was referred to the district court.
Upper Las Colonias: Is concerned about traffic safety at a dangerous intersection where there have been three accidents in two months. The representative suggested that CNA compile a list of dangerous sites in Taos County.
Tierra Blanca: Suggested that Upper Las Colonias approach the New Mexico Traffic Safety Bureau about traffic safety concerns. Tierra Blanca got no passing zones and signs at the Stakeout Road intersection three months after they contacted state officials. Tierra Blanca also reported a rash of home break-ins perpetrated by hungry bears seeking food. Vigilant neighbors are on the lookout for illegal subdivisions in the area, and potential violators should be aware they will be reported.
Arroyo Seco/Valdez: Has submitted a statement requesting a moratorium on subdivisions. On Wednesday, July 12th at 6 pm, there will be an appeal of the La Ponderosa Subdivision in front of the Taos Planning Commission. Among other problems the association has with the proposal, the subdivision road is in some parts situated on a 20% grade.
E. Land Use Violations
It was reported that a planning commissioner failed to obtain a special-use permit for a commercial building. Several courses of action were discussed:
1) File a mandamus or nuisance action to compel compliance with
2) Send influential people to county commission meetings
3) Educate voters so that county commissioners who tolerate such violations are
not elected to office.
Motion: That Dave DiCicco investigate and gather information
on the violation, and that
the Western Environmental Law Center present a time estimate of what it would take to
file suit. Passed (17 for; 0 opposed; 0 abstentions)
MEETING ADJOURNED AT 8:40 P.M.
Next CNA Meeting:
Monday, August 7th, 2000 at the Quality Inn in Taos.
Proposed Agenda for August 7, 2000
DRAFT ORDINANCE TAOS COUNTY ORDINANCE No. ________ - _____ Index Article I. Title Article II. Purpose Article III Statutory Authority Article IV Jurisdiction, Application, Severability, and Conflicting Provisions Article V Definitions Article VI Procedure for Designating Traditional Historic Communities Article VII Creation of Local Development Review Boards Article I, Title This ordinance shall be known as the "Taos County Traditional Historic Communities Ordinance." Article II, Purpose The purpose of this ordinance is to protect and maintain the traditional historic communities of Taos County and to provide for the administration of land uses within those communities; and to preserve the acequia systems within the county and traditional agricultural lifestyles and community values; to encourage the location of compatible uses of land; and to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Taos County. Article III, Statutory Authority The Taos County Board of County Commissioners ("board of county commissioners") is authorized to adopt this ordinance pursuant to NMSA 1978 3-21-1 through 3-21-14 (zoning authority), and NMSA 1978 4-37-1 through 4-37-9 (powers granted to counties to provide for the welfare of their inhabitants). Article IV, Jurisdiction, Application, Severability and Conflicting Provisions A. Jurisdiction: This ordinance shall apply to the unincorporated areas of Taos County, including extraterritorial zones. B. Application: This ordinance shall apply to all petitions for the creation of traditional historic communities in Taos County and will establish a process for the consideration of special use applications within such communities by a local community development review board that shall be delegated the duties now executed by the planning commission. C. Severability: If any part of or any application of this ordinance is held invalid, the remainder of its application in other instances or persons shall not be affected. D. Conflicting Provisions: Where there exists a conflict between any limitation or requirement within this ordinance or in any other ordinance, regulation or law, the more restricted limitation or requirement shall prevail. Article V, Definitions Article VI, Procedure for Designating Traditional Historic Communities A. To qualify as a traditional historic community, an area shall: 1. be an identifiable village, community, neighborhood or district that can be documented as having existed at the time of New Mexico's admission to the United States or for more than one hundred years from the date of the petition for designation as a traditional historic community; and, 2. include structures or landmarks that are associated with the identity of the specific village, community, neighborhood or district seeking designation as a traditional historic community; and, 3. have a distinctive character or traditional quality that can be distinguished from surrounding areas or new developments in the vicinity; and, 4. have developed a community land use plan approved by the board of county commissioners that has had community participation and input and which meets the intent of this ordinance; and, 5. have boundaries as determined by _______________________. B. The board of county commissioners may declare by separate ordinance that a village, community, neighborhood or district within Taos County that meets the criteria stated in paragraph A above is a "traditional historic community" upon petition by twenty-five percent or more of the registered qualified electors of the territory within the village, community, neighborhood or district requesting the designation. The number of registered qualified electors shall be based on county records as of the date of the last general election. C. Any village, community, neighborhood or district that is declared a traditional historic village shall be excluded from the extraterritorial zone and extraterritorial zoning authority of any municipality whose extraterritorial zoning authority extends to include all or a portion of the traditional historic community and shall be subject to the zoning jurisdiction of Taos County. D. The procedure for passage of an ordinance creating a traditional historic community shall follow the statutory requirements for adoption of county ordinances set forth at NMSA 1978 3- 21-14 and 4-37-7. Persons, associations, organizations, corporations or others affected by a petition for the creation of a traditional historic community may file written comments on the proposed designation with the Taos County Planning Department. Article VII, Creation of Local Development Review Boards In concept, each traditional historic community would have a local land use plan (not a vision statement) adopted as a separate county ordinance and the local equivalent of the planning commission for the evaluation of proposed land uses within the THC. LRDC members are required to be residents of the community. Care must be taken to ensure that the delegation of authority to the local development review board is done in accordance with applicable legal requirements. Under the Santa Fe County scheme, the LRDC has local authority for all land use decisions now handled by the planning commission, including subdivision approval. Appeals from the LRDCs are heard by the county commission.
MEMORANDUM To: Council of Neighborhood Associations From: David Gomez Date: 11 July 2000/t Re: Expansion of the County Commission to Five Members Process for Amendment of the Taos County Land Use Regulations I. Expansion of the County Commission The New Mexico Constitution authorizes county commissions to increase to five members upon a unanimous vote to adopt an ordinance to that effect. N.M. Const. Art. X, 7. (See Section II below for the statutory process for adopting or amending ordinances.) The new districts created by the commissioners must be "compact, contiguous and as nearly equal in population as practicable." Id. Commissioners cannot be elected at large; they must live in the districts they represent. Id. The commissioners for the new districts cannot be appointed; they must be elected. Id. The Taos County Commission can elect to expand the size of the commission after the census is completed. NMSA 1978 4-38-3. II. Amendment of the Land Use and Subdivision Regulations There is some concern regarding the possibility that the county commission may "rollback" Taos County's land use and subdivision regulations as part of an amendment or revisiting process. The good news is that in addition to the requirement that all subdivisions meet the standards set forth in the New Mexico Subdivision Act (NMSA 1978 47-6-1 through 29), a county's subdivision regulations are required to address a comprehensive list of issues (see NMSA 1978 47-6-9). Furthermore, adoption (and presumably amendment) of county subdivision regulations is subject to an exhaustive process that provides for notice and public and state agency participation in hearings and comments. NMSA 1978 47-6-10. Of special note is the requirement that "upon adopting, amending or repealing the regulations, the board of county commissioners shall include a brief statement setting forth the board's reasoning and the basis for the board's decision, including the facts and circumstances considered and the weight given to those facts and circumstances." Id. at Para. (I). Participants may request that they be given written notice of the board's decision and the facts and circumstances considered. Id. at Para. (J). Persons adversely affected by the adoption, amendment or repeal of a subdivision regulation may appeal the board's action to the district court. Id. at Paras. (L-N). The district court must set aside the regulation where it finds that it is: "arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion; not supported by substantial evidence; or is otherwise not in accordance with the law." Id. at Para. N. The picture is not so rosy for the amendment of the land use ordinance or adoption of a new ordinance. Under the statutory process for adoption of zoning ordinances, no hearing is required. NMSA 1978 3-21-14. Copies of the proposed ordinance must be made available, however, prior to the commission meeting at which the ordinance will be discussed, and the public must have prior notice of that meeting. Id. I hope that this is helpful to CNA as it continues to act as the public watchdog in land use maters in Taos County. Appendix N.M. Const. Art. X, 7. Board of county commissioners The board of county commissioners by unanimous vote may adopt an ordinance to increase the size of the boards of county commissioners to five members. Upon creation of a five-member board, the county shall be divided by the incumbent board of county commissioners into five county commission districts that shall be compact, contiguous and as nearly equal in population as practicable. One county commissioner shall reside within and be elected from each county commission district. Change of residence to a place outside the district from which a county commissioner was elected shall automatically terminate the service of that commissioner and the office shall be declared vacant. NMSA 1978 47-6-9. Subdivision regulation; county authority A. The board of county commissioners of each county shall regulate subdivisions within the county's boundaries. In regulating subdivisions, the board of county commissioners of each county shall adopt regulations setting forth the county's requirements for: (1) preliminary and final subdivision plats, including their content and format; (2) quantifying the maximum annual water requirements of subdivisions, including water for indoor and outdoor domestic uses; (3) assessing water availability to meet the maximum annual water requirements of subdivisions; (4) water conservation measures; (5) water of an acceptable quality for human consumption, and for protecting the water supply from contamination; (6) liquid waste disposal; (7) solid waste disposal; (8) legal access to each parcel; (9) sufficient and adequate roads to each parcel, including ingress and egress for emergency vehicles; (10) utility easements to each parcel; (11) terrain management; (12) phased development; (13) protecting cultural properties, archaeological sites and unmarked burials, as required by the Cultural Properties Act; (14) specific information to be contained in a subdivider's disclosure statement in addition to that required in > Section 47-6-17 NMSA 1978; (15) reasonable fees approximating the cost to the county of determining compliance with the New Mexico Subdivision Act and county subdivision regulations while passing upon subdivision plats; (16) a summary procedure for reviewing certain type-three and all type-five subdivisions as provided in > Section 47-6-11 NMSA 1978; (17) recording all conveyances of parcels with the county clerk; (18) financial security to assure the completion of all improvements that the subdivider proposes to build or to maintain; (19) fencing subdivided land, where appropriate, in conformity with > Section 77-16-1 NMSA 1978, which places the duty on the purchaser, lessee or other person acquiring an interest in the subdivided land to fence out livestock; and (20) any other matter relating to subdivisions that the board of county commissioners feels is necessary to promote health, safety or the general welfare. B. Subsection A of this section does not preempt the authority of any state agency to regulate or perform any activity that it is required or authorized by law to perform. C. The following counties shall adopt regulations pursuant to this section on or before July 1, 1996: Bernalillo, Dona Ana and Santa Fe. D. All remaining counties shall adopt regulations pursuant to this section on or before July 1, 1997. E. Nothing in the New Mexico Subdivision Act shall be construed to limit the authority of counties to adopt subdivision regulations with requirements that are more stringent than the requirements set forth in the New Mexico Subdivision Act, provided the county has adopted a comprehensive plan in accordance with > Section 3-21-5 NMSA 1978 and those regulations are consistent with such plan. NMSA 1978 47-6-10. County subdivision regulations; hearings; appeal In promulgating subdivision regulations, the board of county commissioners shall adhere to the following procedures. A. Prior to adopting, amending or repealing any regulation, the board of county commissioners shall consult with representatives of the state engineer's office, the department of environment, the office of cultural affairs, all soil and water conservation districts within the county, the state highway and transportation department and the attorney general about the subjects within their respective expertise for which the board of county commissioners is considering promulgating a regulation. In the process of the consultation, the representatives of each of the state agencies shall give consideration to the conditions peculiar to the county and shall submit written guidelines to the board of county commissioners for its consideration in formulating regulations. The guidelines: (1) shall be given consideration by the board of county commissioners in the formulation of the county's subdivision regulations; (2) shall become a part of the record of any hearing in which regulations are adopted, amended or repealed; and (3) may be in such detail as the agency involved desires. B. A regulation may not be adopted, amended or repealed until after a public hearing held by the board of county commissioners. Notice of the hearing shall be given at least thirty days prior to the hearing date and shall state: (1) the subject of the regulation; (2) the time and place of the hearing; (3) the manner in which interested persons may present their views; and (4) the place and manner in which interested persons may secure copies of any proposed regulation. The board of county commissioners may impose a reasonable charge for the costs of reproducing and mailing of the proposed regulations. C. The notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. D. Reasonable effort shall be made to give notice to all persons who have made a written request to the board of county commissioners for advance notice of its hearings. E. The board of county commissioners shall give the state engineer, the department of environment, the office of cultural affairs, the state highway and transportation department, all soil and water conservation districts within the county and the attorney general thirty days' notice of its regulation hearings. F. At the hearing, the board of county commissioners shall allow all interested persons reasonable opportunity to submit data, views or arguments, orally or in writing, and to examine witnesses testifying at the hearing. The board shall keep a complete record of the hearing proceedings. G. Representatives from the state engineer's office, the department of environment, the office of cultural affairs, all soil and water conservation districts within the county, the state highway and transportation department and the attorney general shall be given the opportunity to make an oral statement at the hearing and to enter into the record of the hearing a written statement setting forth any comments that they may have about the proposed regulation, whether favorable or unfavorable, when the proposed regulation relates to an issue that is within the agencies' respective areas of expertise. H. A regulation is not invalid because of the failure of a state agency to submit a guideline prior to the promulgation of the regulation or because the representative of a state agency did not appear at a public hearing on the regulation or did not make any comment for entry in the hearing record. I. The board of county commissioners shall act on the proposed regulations at the regulation hearings or at a public meeting to be held within thirty days of the hearing on the proposed regulations. Upon adopting, amending or repealing the regulations, the board of county commissioners shall include in the record a short statement setting forth the board's reasoning and the basis of the board's decision, including the facts and circumstances considered and the weight given to those facts and circumstances. J. Any person heard or represented at the hearing shall be given written notice of the board's decision, including the facts and circumstances considered, if the person makes a written request to the board for notice of its decision. K. A regulation, amendment or repeal is not effective until thirty days after it is filed with the county clerk and the state records administrator. L. Any person who is or may be adversely affected by a decision of the board of county commissioners to adopt, amend or repeal a regulation may appeal that decision to the district court. All appeals shall be upon the record made at the hearing and shall be filed in the district court within thirty days after the board of county commissioners votes to adopt, amend or repeal the regulation. M. An appeal is perfected by filing a notice of appeal in the district court of the county that has adopted, amended or repealed the regulation. The appellant shall certify in his notice of appeal that arrangements have been made with the board of county commissioners for preparation of a sufficient number of transcripts of the record of the hearing to support his appeal, including one copy that he shall furnish at his own expense to the board of county commissioners. A copy of the notice of appeal shall also be served upon the board of county commissioners. N. Upon appeal, the district court shall set aside the regulation only if it is found to be: (1) arbitrary, capricious or an abuse of discretion; (2) not supported by substantial evidence; or (3) otherwise not in accordance with law. O. Any party to the action in district court may appeal to the court of appeals for further relief. 3-21-14. Adoption of county zoning ordinances A. Ordinances authorized under > Section 3-21-13 NMSA 1978 may be proposed by any member of the board of county commissioners but shall not be submitted to the board for final passage until after publication. B. A majority of the board members may order publication of the title and a general summary of a proposed ordinance in a newspaper of general circulation in the county at least once a week for two consecutive weeks prior to the date of the meeting of the board at which the ordinance is to be submitted for final passage. The date of the meeting shall be included in the published notice. The style and form of the ordinance shall be determined by the board. C. A proposed ordinance shall be passed only by a majority vote of all the members of the board of county commissioners, and an existing ordinance shall be repealed by the same vote. D. The original copy of the ordinance together with the proof of publication and supporting maps shall be filed in a book kept for that purpose and authenticated by the signature of the county clerk. The county clerk shall keep the book together with supporting maps in his office. The title and a general summary of the ordinance shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county once each week for two consecutive weeks, the last date of publication being not less than fifteen nor more than thirty days prior to the effective date of the ordinance. No ordinance shall take effect until at least fifteen days after the last date of publication. It is a sufficient defense to any prosecution for violation of an ordinance to show that no publication was made. Copies of the proposed ordinance shall be made available to interested persons during normal and regular business hours of the county clerk upon request and payment of a reasonable charge, beginning with the date of publication and continuing to the date of consideration by the board of county commissioners. E. Whenever the book of ordinances is introduced as evidence, the Rules of Civil Procedure shall govern. 4-37-7. Proposal of ordinances; publication A. Ordinances may be proposed by any member of the board of county commissioners. Ordinances shall not be submitted to the board for final passage until a majority of the members have directed that the title and a general summary of the subject matter of the proposed ordinances be published one time in a newspaper of general circulation within the county at least two weeks prior to the meeting of the board at which the ordinance is proposed for final passage. The date and time of the meeting at which the ordinance is to be considered shall also be published. B. Copies of proposed ordinances shall be made available to interested persons during normal and regular business hours of the county clerk upon request and payment of reasonable charge, beginning with the date of publication and continuing to the date of consideration by the county's elected commission. C. This section shall not apply to ordinances dealing with an emergency declared by the board of county commissioners to be an immediate danger to the public health, safety and welfare of the county or to ordinances the subject matter of which amends a city zoning map if the amendment has been considered by, and recommended to, the board of county commissioners by a planning commission with jurisdiction in the matter. D. It is a sufficient defense to any suit or prosecution to show that notice by publication was not made.