Sunday, October 4, 2009

Residents Not Told About Land Deal By Kathleen Dudley

Albuquerque Journal North

"It's the wind in the cottonwood trees and the stillness at dawn and dusk, crowing roosters and lazy, dusty, meandering lanes in Mora County that draws one's breath into oneself and makes this land palpably breathtaking. The sharp, crisp, autumn air, and the sweet, pure water of the high mountain region assuage our souls and spirits and give meaning to life. Nature does that to those who stand in her presence and honor her gifts — all 1,244,160 acres.

This is about to change, or so we are told by Shell LTD, who stated in July 2009 that they will begin development within a year. However, the silence around the impending oil and gas explosion in Mora County remains otherwise shrouded in secrecy with the exceptional absence of a public process. No survey, no meetings to inquire what the citizens want for their county, just the stillness "idyllic Mora County" presents to those who revel in its beauty.

The commission is not talking, the planning and zoning committee is not talking, the county land use administrator is not talking. The only person who would talk is no longer county manager — our 11th county manager in 10 years!

At the time Tecton and KHL Inc. began their departure from Santa Fe County in 2007-2008, Knute Lee arrived here in Ocate, sponsoring a barbecue to announce that wealth was about to arrive to the fifth-poorest county in New Mexico. Mineral leases were their game and extraction was their goal. And only those whom they contacted would know what was about to happen in this county.

Drilling Mora County (DMC), a concerned citizens' group, was formed at that time to help educate themselves and others about the impact oil and gas drilling has on agricultural counties like Mora, whose Development Guidance System (DGS) and Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) fundamentally, both in their goals, visions and laws, protect the agricultural basis the economy and prohibit any industrial development that would pollute the air, water or cause ill health to the people. And to these documents Mora County government officials have sworn to uphold their governance.

The County Commission, land use administrator and planning and zoning committee hold meetings with little if no regard for citizen presentation and inquiry on this issue. In fact, it took all but two years of repeated requests to have a special commission meeting for citizen input.

And still the silence continued. Their oath of silence during the three hour presentation by 48 people would have been palpable even if the commissioners' squirming and blatant disregard for citizen comment had not caused mental calamity in the bleacher-packed gymnasium. With few exceptions, the rudeness and disregard for the people came through in their silence.

Still the silence continues. The Santa Fe Opera director, Charles MacKay, signed the mineral lease so that a young artists' program could be funded." More: Journal North Link>>>> pdf link>>>>

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