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ETZ Commission scheduled to hear about solar, cannabis projects

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A permit for a planned solar farm is due to be considered by the Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission at a Tuesday evening meeting, while the group is also expected to hear about a local company that wants a permit to start growing and harvesting cannabis at a property on Southeast Main Street.

The commission is due to meet tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place. Five items are on the agenda, including three separate requests to vacate alleys and the two special use permit applications.

The “community solar garden” on about 25 acres of property at West Pine Lodge Road and the Roswell Relief Route is being proposed by Chaves Solar Energy LLC, which is part of Pivot Energy New Mexico LLC and Pivot Energy Inc. of Denver, Colorado.

The property owners are Jerrod and Melissa Higgins, who intend to enter a long-term lease with Pivot, which wants to put up solar installations to produce electricity that would be sold to a local utility company. Customers who sign up for the service would then receive discounts or rebates on their electric bills.

This project is allowed by the new Community Solar Act signed into law in April, but Pivot and Chaves Solar Energy would have to be accepted as a solar project by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to operate as a community solar producer. The selection process is supposed to start in April 2022.

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The project group already has made one presentation on Aug. 17 to the ETZ Commission, which can make zoning and permit decisions about county properties within 2 miles of Roswell city limits. The group also can make recommendations about ETZ ordinances to the ETZ Authority.

The Chaves County Planning and Zoning Department, which provides the staff for ETZ cases and meetings, found out that one nearby property owner had not been notified as required, and Pivot wanted additional time to talk with any property owners who had concerns about the project. Those factors caused the case to be postponed a couple of months.

The other special use permit is being requested by Carl and Lynda Day of Cielo Vista Farms LLC. They want to grow, harvest, test, process and ship cannabis from a greenhouse and other facilities to be placed on about 7 acres of land in the 5500 block of Southeast Main Street.

The Chaves County Board of Commissioners and the ETZ Authority recently approved amendments to their zoning ordinances concerning recreational marijuana businesses. The New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act was passed by the state Legislature in March, with parts of the law allowing limited personal possession and use taking effect in June. Growers’ or producers’ licenses began to be processed by the state in late August.

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