Home News Local News ETZ Commission recommends proposals for oil, gas boom

ETZ Commission recommends proposals for oil, gas boom

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The Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Commission has recommended approval of two articles to the ETZ zoning ordinance to govern workforce camps and RV parks. Chair Larry Connolly, left, cast the only dissenting votes among the seven members Tuesday night, citing his concerns that the county alone cannot enforce the regulations. He is seen with fellow commission members Michael Lackey and Mona Kirk. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Actions regarding workforce camps, RV parks still require additional approvals

Two new articles proposed to be added to the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Ordinance that would regulate future workforce camps and recreational vehicle parks were recommended by 6-1 votes at a Tuesday night meeting of the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Commission.

The chair of the group, Larry Connolly, praised the county staff for its foresight and work on developing the new articles, but he voted against both of them, Article 27 for workforce camps and Article 28 for RV parks. He said he did not think the county staff has the manpower or time to enforce the regulations without the help of the city of Roswell and wants changes to require city involvement.

“The county has done a horse**** job of taking care of the ETZ,” Connolly said. “All you have to do is go drive around this county” to see trash and unkempt properties.

He explained that he was not criticizing staff, but said that the department of three employees cannot enforce ETZ regulations by itself at the same time that it has responsibility for the entire county.

At the current time, the sole responsibility for staffing the ETZ Commission, working on ETZ applications and requests, and enforcing the ETZ zoning ordinance enacted in August 1980 lies with the county Planning and Zoning Department, said department Director Louis Jaramillo. He added that the county regularly talks to and coordinates with city planning staff.

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Commission member Matthew Bristol, a lawyer, said that only the state Legislature could grant the city authority outside the city limits.

By agreement of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners and the Roswell City Council, the ETZ ordinance governs county properties within about two miles of the city limits.

The new articles are meant to provide guidelines to deal with what the county anticipates could be popping up locally as the oil and gas industry boom in southeastern New Mexico is expected to move beyond Lea and Eddy counties. In those counties, workforce camps, sometimes called man camps, and RV parks have developed quickly as apartments, rental houses and other lodging have filled up with oilfield workers.

The suggested ETZ articles are meant to ensure that new developments in Chaves County would be sanitary, safe and in compliance with state and local regulations. Also, development plans would have to be submitted and approved by property owners and managers.

The commission made some changes and edits Tuesday. The most significant change was to alter the workforce camp article to indicate that the “location of the camp cannot be so close to the school to interfere with school children’s travel to and from the school.”

Commission member Mona Kirk suggested the addition, saying she wanted to ensure the safety of Roswell Independent School District students, as some district schools are in the ETZ.

“Man camps are not inherently bad,” said Royce “Pancho” Maples. “They aren’t strip joints,” he said.

“These are not local residents,” Kirk countered.” These come and go, and we know the type of activity they bring. That is the reason why we are instilling these articles.”

The change was approved by all members.

The final drafts of the articles, which have been commented on by the public at three meetings and through written submissions, will be posted on the Chaves County website, co.chaves.nm.us.

Jaramillo said the Chaves County Board of Commissioners will have to review the articles before they go before the ETZ Authority, which has the final decision. That group, which consists of three county commissioners and two Roswell city councilors, is expected to consider the matter by December.

Similar articles that would be added to the Chaves County Zoning Ordinance are under consideration by the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Commission.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.