Home News Local News Proposed changes with ETZ ordinance worry some

Proposed changes with ETZ ordinance worry some

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Some Chaves County property owners are concerned that ordinance changes being considered by the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Authority could defeat their reasons for living in the county, and a large crowd that showed up at a Tuesday night meeting successfully got a delay of the consideration of some amendments.

The ETZ Authority met to consider an appeal of an ETZ Commission case and proposed changes to the ETZ ordinance, which governs county property within 2 miles of the Roswell city limits.

The authority denied the appeal for a second residence on a Dexter property by a 4-1 vote, with Roswell city councilor and ETZ Authority member George Peterson in opposition. But neither the applicants or anyone in the crowd spoke about the case.

The crowd that filled the Chaves County Board of Commissioners chambers and spilled into the foyer was also silent about two major additions to the ordinance — Articles 27 and 28 that concern workforce camps and recreational vehicle parks — so those passed 4-1, with Peterson opposing.

What drew the crowd and some loud remarks by some are the proposed amendments to 18 sections of the ordinance.

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Not much discussion occurred because the ETZ Authority voted unanimously to table consideration of those changes after Jennifer Therrien — backed by some concurring sentiments shouted by others — said that she had been unaware of the meeting until that day in spite of published notices about it.

They added that they couldn’t find any information about the proposed changes on the county website or its social media pages.

Chaves County Planning and Zoning Director Louis Jaramillo said that the agenda had been posted on the website three days prior to the meeting.

Some also objected to the proposed amendments that would limit publicized notifications to newspaper notices only, calling newspapers “outdated.”

“While it follows New Mexico statute, you are not required to stick to New Mexico statute,” said Therrien. She also objected to a section that proposes to change the appeals process for commission decisions.

“If you are going to amend the statute, this isn’t an appropriate way to do it,” she said, “to remove a process of appeals.”

A few speaking publicly Tuesday after tabling the decision said they thought some of the proposed changes are a first step toward annexing their properties into the city.

A couple of proposed changes dealing with single-family or multiple-family residences on parcels smaller than 5 acres would require approved variances and the use of city water and sewer services.

According to Jaramillo, the authority may decide not to adopt the restrictions regarding parcels smaller than 5 acres, but he noted that all residences on ETZ properties have had to be on parcels of 5 acres or more, unless given authorization otherwise, since the ETZ ordinance was enacted in 1980.

The next meeting of the ETZ Authority could be some time in July or August, he said.

He added that the disputed amendments had been heard by the ETZ Commission at public meetings in November and December, but that he and his staff will be happy to answer people’s questions about them.

“I am pleased that Articles 27 and 28 were approved, so developers can begin their development plans for RV parks in the ETZ territory,” he said.

The county Planning and Zoning office works with the city Planning and Zoning Department, but it is the lead office to staff the ETZ Authority and handle ETZ zoning issues.

The ETZ Authority consists of three Chaves County commissioners and two Roswell city councilors. Current members are Chaves County commissioners Will Cavin, Dara Dana and Robert Corn (chair) and Roswell city councilors Jeanine Best (vice-chair) and George Peterson.

Peterson said he had difficulty obtaining information about the meeting and was given an incorrect agenda. He added that he wasn’t happy about the proposed changes.

“I do oppose this ETZ ordinance,” he added. “It is the way for the city to control a few miles outside of Roswell. This is a law straight from Santa Fe. You talk about gun laws and everything like that out of Santa Fe. This is worse because it is zoning. Rich people love zoning because they can tell you what to do. These people up here want to tell you what to do.”

Cavin and Best assured people that they will work to provide information to the public ahead of the next meeting, with Best saying that she intends to work with the city of Roswell about posting information on its website as well.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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