Land dispute settled at city council meeting

By Tony Parra

More than a year-and-a-half after their initial request for a zoning change was denied, Victor and Linda Baca were able to get approval for the Seal Addition Subdivision Development property in Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The Bacas’ property is located off of University Drive, across for the Eastern New Mexico University baseball field. Their initial request in May of 2003 was to have the property changed from a single family residential to a multi-family zone, allowing apartments to be built. The city council accepted members of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s denial of the request.
This time the Bacas decided to enter a plat application to build single-family apartments and the Planning and Zoning commission members recommended approval of the request and the city councilors approved the request.
“It’s a bittersweet victory,” Victor Baca said. “The plan didn’t go as we initially proposed. As far as the plat goes, it meets all the requirements. The sooner we can get started, the better. We go on.”
Despite the fact the Bacas had their proposal approved, it wasn’t without resistance. There were concerns, for example, over the drainage situation. Smith Engineering saw one problem after reviewing the preliminary plan — the street design was to drain the proposed streets from north to south, but that was not reflected in the preliminary plan.
“I want to say, I appreciate you (Mayor, city councilors and planning and zoning officials) addressing our concerns,” Jon Birdsong, one of the residents concerned with the drainage of the proposed plat, said. “You bent over backwards to make this happen.”
The drainage issue has since been resolved through the re-plat and the Bacas can now begin on construction work. In the request to change the property from a single-family to multi-family property in May of 2003, residents of the Western Skies Subdivision gave concerns about possible increase in parties, loud music and crime.
“I move to approve the request with a clear conscious,” Alfred Bachicha, city councilor, said. “Every item which was required was met.”
City Manager Debi Lee said she will work on a schedule to accommodate city councilors so they can meet to discuss projects for legislative funding. Lee said Gov. Bill Richardson is wanting forms by Oct. 15 listing the city’s top three priorities. The Roosevelt County Commission decided against sending its priorities because some commissioners believed such a measure would take power away from the legislators and lobbyists and transfer it to the governor.
City attorney Stephen Doerr said there are also concerns around town over maintaining yards and property, especially weeds.
“It’s bad in a lot of parts of town,” Doerr said. “Some residents need to keep their weeds down.”