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Zoning commission to consider disputed case; Local business owner seeks to overcome objections to trucks

The owner of this property off of Sena Road just east of the city limits says he has invested a lot in his property and has worked to be a good neighbor, but some have objected to his semi-trucks near their homes. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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A lawyer representing a man who has been in a months-long dispute with the county and some neighbors over his property is hoping that the problem could be resolved Tuesday night.

The Extraterritorial Zoning Commission is scheduled to hear a zoning case that began in October 2017 and involves the owner of land on Sena Road off of 19th Street just east of the city limits.

Servando Villanueva has applied for a special permit so that he can continue to park some semi-trucks he uses for his hay-hauling business on the property, which is near residential homes and is zoned rural suburban.

He contends that county Planning and Zoning staff gave him verbal permission for the trucks prior to his purchase of the land, a contention staff members have disputed in written statements to the commission.

“I wouldn’t be so upset if I hadn’t asked about the trucks,” Villanueva said. “But I did — not just once but two or three times.”

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In an effort to resolve some objections, Villanueva’s lawyer has proposed granting utility and access easements to the city of Roswell and its residents on portions of the property. And the city has indicated as a result that it is withdrawing its previous objections to take a neutral position.

“While the city will usually recommend that the zoning ordinance be adhered to, especially in requesting permission after the fact, the City does appreciate the effort the current applicant is putting into finding a solution that works for the area,” City Attorney Aaron Holloman wrote to the county to explain the decision.

In a separate email, Holloman also expressed that he thinks the commission’s decision should be made with a mind to whether neighbors view the benefits of Villanueva’s offers as outweighing concerns they have.

The case first began in October 2017, two years after Villanueva purchased the land and after he built a home on it. The county notified Villanueva that ideally he should find a more suitable location for his vehicles but indicated that he also had the option of applying for the special use permit, which he did in December.

The case has come before the ETZ Commission three times, with commissioners continuing the matter each time, in part to give Villanueva and his neighbors a chance to reach agreements.

According to information from Villanueva and his lawyer, he has worked to be a good neighbor and property owner.

They said he has invested a significant amount of money to improve the land that previously had been used for storing old tires, allows a county flood-drainage pond for the area on his land, mows people’s weeds and grass, and permits them access to his property when they needed to make repairs on adjacent homes. To address some complaints about the appearance and headlights associated with the trucks, he built a six-foot fence on his property, which he said was not received well by all neighbors.

Villanueva also has told commissioners that he can’t park his trucks elsewhere because of worries that they could be vandalized, as one of his supporters said happened in the past when Villanueva parked them away from his home.

Some of his neighbors have written and voiced their support for Villanueva and his business. But others, all living within the city limits, have complained about such things as noise, headlights, air pollution and concerns over diminished property values for residential housing in the area.

The commission is due to hear the case 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.