Sunday, November 7, 2010

County plan for growth scrutinized ahead of vote

Critics blast 'cookie cutter' aspects, ambiguities

Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican
Posted: Saturday, November 06, 2010 - 1

"The Santa Fe County Commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a plan for managing growth over the next 20 years.

Land Use Director Jack Kolkmeyer said the Sustainable Growth Management Plan is an evolution of the county's 1999 land-use plan and addresses some of the same topics — community planning, open space, affordable housing and targeted development districts. But it also contains new elements.

Kolkmeyer said the plan, which the county has been working on for the past two years, includes maps that clearly identify those areas of the county where growth will be encouraged. One component of the new plan is a Capital Improvements Plan that will allow residents to see the order of priority for different county projects.

Overall, Kolkmeyer said, the growth-management plan is a tool designed to balance the rights of individual landowners with the rights of the public and give residents "more clarity about the process."

Much of the nearly 300-page document is devoted to outlining conditions in the county as they exist now.

It also contains suggestions for fostering clustered, mixed-use developments and walkable communities to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and directing growth to areas where infrastructure already exists.

Requiring new development to pay its share of the cost for new infrastructure and service-related needs is also central to the plan.

The county has held an estimated 100 meetings on the plan and dozens of organizations — including schools, farms, acequia associations and conservancy groups — have weighed in during the process.

Still, there are some groups and individuals who aren't comfortable with the plan.

People who live in the most southern part of Santa Fe County have said the plan's emphasis on clustered development and the preference for surface water over groundwater does not reflect their lifestyle choices or the realities of water use in their part of the county. " More>>>>



  1. And an email alert sent out from United Communities of Santa Fe County:

    Community Action Alert!

    Dear Concerned Citizen,

    I had written to you back in August that there would come a time when we really needed your help and this is it!

    On November 9th Santa Fe County could pass the Sustainable Growth Management Plan (SGMP) which promotes sustainability in Santa Fe County. The Santa Fe County Tea Party, the Republican Party and other extremists, backed by real estate and mining interests are trying to kill the Plan.

    We need people to:

    1) email or call all county commissioners. Leave the message that you support the SGMP and if anything it should be made stronger. Use the subject line: I Support the SGMP.
    Their email addresses are: ; ; ; ; . Also add the county manager and land use administrator: , . The phone # is 986-6200 to leave a message.

    2) Attend the meeting: It will be helpful to have supporters there. November 9th, 6:00 P.M. at the County Commission Chambers: 102 Grant St.

    3) Write a letter to the editor: If you know about the Plan, express your support to the editor.

    This Tuesday, Santa Fe County could pass the Sustainable Growth Management Plan. This is a giant step forward in promoting sustainability in Santa Fe County. It addresses: zoning, construction, transportation, agriculture, open space, economic development, community plans, etc. It is a brilliant effort and incorporates thousands of hours of community input over a two year period. Ultimately (we hope), it will result in a land use code that supports ecological principles and protects communities.

    However, the Santa Fe County Tea Party dominated by former officers of the Republican Party and other extremists, are working hard to sabotage this effort. Hidden behind them are real estate and mining interests, spreading misinformation, half-truths and outright lies.

    I call them “extremists” because their flyers and emails refer to websites which call for: the abolition of local government powers, rejection of the “global warming hoax,” and stopping the United Nation’s push to ‘One World Order’ by Land Use regulations and Agenda 21. When I participated in over sixty meetings of the SGMP, I had no idea I was threatening the existence of the Free World.

    One of their distortions is a claim that impact fees on developers are a “new tax”. It’s not a new tax. The Plan makes developers responsible for their fair share---the real costs of their development. Instead these extremists want you, the taxpayer, to subsidize developers; to give them a free government handout, now and into the future.

    Another distortion is saying the Plan is against property rights. The Plan actually protects your right to enjoy your property. It makes it more difficult for someone to use their “property rights” to put a mine or other negative land use, right next to you.

    Another distortion is that every home will require fire sprinklers and water tanks for fire fighting purposes. This is already a part of current land use codes and is required by State Fire Code in mountain areas for homes over 2,500 square feet.

    There are too many distortions to address here. The Plan is excellent for our future, our community’s future, and our families’ future. Read the Plan, which is online at: The people behind this opposition to the Plan killed a 1999 Plan and it has shifted the costs of development from developers to the County and has created sprawl and illegal developments that taxpayers have had to pay for in correcting poorly build roads, and water and sewer systems.

    Don’t let extremists destroy our future. Call or write your commissioners. Come on Tuesday at 6PM. Write a letter to the editor. Thanks!

  2. Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter Action Alert: