The San Miguel County Commission took the first step toward approving the plans for the wood business park on Las Vegas’ north side.
One official compared the action to a person’s allowing himself to go to the bathroom. That’s because the county was essentially approving its own project. The county owns the area where the park will be, which is the site of the old Medite of New Mexico fiberboard factory.
Managing the park will be the Las Vegas-San Miguel Economic Development Corporation, which hopes to spur local wood-related industries.
Besides the business park, the site will also include the county’s public works operation, including a gravel crusher, which will provide materials for road projects. The county also hopes to use the site as a solid waste transfer station, where it can then transport trash by rail to the Wagon Mound landfill.
During a commission meeting last week, some residents expressed concerns about the project.
Curtis Sollohub, a Los Vigiles resident, said he hoped the covenants for the park wouldn’t allow any businesses that are water-intensive, noting the limited water supplies in the area.
Anita Roy, who lives next to the site of the proposed industrial park, said she suffered a lot from the pollution effects of Medite. She said she was worried about a crusher in the area.
“I do have a concern that what is done is done in the most conservative manner,” she said.
Katharine Duke, who also lives in the area of the proposed park, said she had been trying to track down the proposed covenants for the park — to no avail.
Sharon Vander Meer, the EDC’s executive director, said her group hadn’t released the covenants because they weren’t final. She said she wanted the commission to see them first.
County Manager Les Montoya said the county was “cognizant” of the fact that water is limited and that the county would probably need to look for other sources of water for the park.
The commission unanimously approved the preliminary plat for the park.
The county’s attorney, Jesus Lopez, said the commission’s approval of the plat was like someone approving himself to go to the bathroom.
“Some case law says we don’t need to approve our own plat,” he said, but he added that the county was covering all of its bases by going through the full approval process.
Commission Chairman David Salazar proposed delaying a decision on the covenants. He said he wanted to make them available to residents before the county were to make a decision.
Vander Meer said the EDC has worked on the covenants for a long time, but they were by no means perfect. She said her group welcomed input.
In other County Commission business
The County Commission approved the contract for a project to improve the road to San Juan, a village in the western part of the county. The commission chose Rocky Road Gravel Products, which beat six other contractors bidding on the project. The road to San Juan has been in bad condition for years.
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The county is submitting three road projects for funding from the state Department of Transportation. The roads targeted for improvements are Harris Road, Storrie Project Road and Chapelle Road.
Harold Garcia, the county’s public works supervisor, told the commission that all these projects have gone through at least one phase of work and that the county wanted to complete what it had started.
Commissioner June Garcia said she would like El Camino on the list of roads to be improved. It is the heavily traveled road that links N.M. Highway 65 (Hot Springs Boulevard) to Cinder Road. She said El Camino is crumbling.
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The County Commission approved an agreement with the state Department of Finance and Administration and El Valle Water Alliance, which is a group of 12 mutual domestic water associations in western San Miguel County. The agreement would involve the hiring of employees to monitor the associations’ water systems.
Ramon Lucero, an alliance representative, said the program is a pilot and could serve as a model for the state. He said the associations are all-volunteer and as such, have a hard time keeping up with state regulations. Shared employees could help solve that problem, he said.
“With over 50 years of domestic water associations, we haven’t done a good job at self-sustainability,” Lucero said.
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The County Commission was informed that a recent audit gave the county’s finances the highest rating possible. Commission members praised Melinda Gonzales, the county’s finance supervisor, for her performance.
— David Giuliani, Las Vegas Optic