Monday, April 12, 2010

Santa Fe County Emergency Interim Development Ordinance (Six Month New Development Approvals Moratorium)

From Santa Fe County Commissioner Holian:

"Dear Citizens of Santa Fe County,

I am sponsoring the consideration of a moratorium on development in Santa Fe County, which will be near the beginning of the BCC agenda tomrorrow. It could generate a bit of a stir. This item, which has to be voted on, would publish Title and Summary of an Ordinance that would prohibit the granting of discretionary legislative and quasi-judicial approvals for zoning, subdivisions, famly transfers, land divisions, and a number of other land-use items related to new development.

I came to the decision to sponsor this after a long weekend of reading through our packet for the Tuesday meeting that has a number of contentious land use issues on the agenda.

You all know that Santa Fe County is in the process of rewriting our Sustainable Land Use Plan and Code. "Sustainable" is our hope for the future of our communities; almost everyone who's spoken out in county meetings on the Plan does not want to see any more sprawl development in Santa Fe County.

This new code will have some common elements with the Oil and Gas Ordinance which passed in late 2008:

1) Development will not be prohibited, but:

2) A robust set of reports and studies will be required for any new development.

3) There will be mandatory community involvement.

4) Land that is sensitive (archaeologically, agriculturally, environmentally, or cultural-historically) will be protected.

5) New development will require that adequate public facilities and services be provided: if not already existing, they will have to be built by the developer, right up front.

Right now, there are very few applications in to the County for developments. It appears that existing platted developments are at a standstill. Recently, we have been asked to approve extensions for some developments that were approved several years ago. Little, if anything at all, has gone forward due to market conditions.

I think this illustrates that the way we have been doing things with regard to development is no longer working for a number of reasons. We have to re-examine the whole process of development in the County. In fact, that is what we are doing with our new Code.

At the same time, if this moratorium passes, it is important for all of us to realize that we each have personal responsibility to push for the expeditious implementation of the new Code. Obviously, we Commissioners and the County staff are intimately involved in this new initiative on a daily basis. But also, it is up to you, the people of our County -- from the developers to the community members -- to speed the process of getting the code into operation as soon as possible: Sprawl will not wait, just as when the oil and gas drillers were poised to begin their work in the Galisteo Basin.

Just as a point of process, we will be voting on publishing Title and Summary of the Ordinance tomorrow. If that were to pass, we would then have a Public Hearing at an upcoming BCC meeting (either the next or the one after). Then, if that passed, the moratorium would last for six months. If you want to comment on this, be there tomorrow at 2 pm to make your voice heard


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