Home News Local News Disputed zoning case ends with permit approval, compromises

Disputed zoning case ends with permit approval, compromises

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“I think what we have accomplished here is good for everyone involved,” lawyer Thomas McLarty said Tuesday about the decisions made to resolve a dispute over property in Chaves County just east of the city limits. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission has decided to let a local businessman keep trucks on his property just east of the city limits, a decision the man’s lawyer called a good outcome for his client and the community.

“I think it is a win-win for the city and Mr. (Servando) Villanueva and . . . the neighbors also,” said lawyer Thomas McLarty after Tuesday’s public meeting of the commission. “I think what we have accomplished here is good for everyone involved.”

Villanueva agreed to grant some access to the property for emergency crews and utilities and also has agreed to continue efforts that benefit neighbors or reduce impacts on them.

After continuing the matter three times to give Villanueva and others an opportunity to reach agreements, the six commission members at the meeting voted unanimously to grant Villanueva’s request for a special use permit, but included several conditions.

The case started in October 2017 when Chaves County Planning and Zoning staff notified Villanueva that he would need either to move the semi-trucks for his hay-hauling business off his property on Sena Road, off of East 19th Street, or file for a special use permit because the land is zoned rural suburban rather than heavy commercial or industrial.

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Villanueva contended that he had received verbal permission from county staff to have his trucks parked on the land before he purchased the property in summer 2015 at the suggestion of his banker. County staff disputed that claim in written comments to the commission.

McLarty said Villanueva has invested his life’s savings in the 9.2 acres, building a home and making other improvements to the property. Changes included a privacy fence intended to limit dust, visual impacts or the shining of headlights on neighbors.

While some nearby property owners wrote letters and gave comments at meetings in support of Villanueva and his business, other neighbors expressed concerns about noise, smell, dust, headlights, ground vibrations and possible property devaluations.

City of Roswell staff also originally opposed Villanueva’s application, but at Tuesday’s night meeting indicated that they supported it given Villanueva’s offer of easements and his other actions to reach compromises with neighbors.

“I appreciate Mr. Villanueva’s effort that he has taken in trying to provide some benefits and address some of the concerns the citizens have along that area,” said City Attorney Aaron Holloman.

City Planning Manager Bill Morris talked privately with Mr. Villanueva several times during the meeting before announcing that he supported the granting of the permit given the easements and other conditions that would be attached to the permit.

Some of the many conditions on the permit included limiting the number of trucks to two, the hours when they could arrive and leave, and the duration of the permit. Originally the permit would be granted for one year, at which point planning and zoning staff will review the situation. After that, the permit would be reviewed every three years and would expire if Villanueva discontinues having trucks on the land for three years.

In regard to the easements, Villanueva and his neighbor, Jimmy Bray, granted easements to the north and south of their parcels for access by emergency vehicles and for utilities, while Villanueva also granted an easement along the west portion of his parcel.

Villanueva also agreed to continue mowing weeds and grass and applying pesticides to control mosquitoes near a settlement pond used by the Chaves County Flood Control District.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.