Commission discusses, stops short of action, on dairy zoning

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Roosevelt County Commissioners briefly discussed zoning that could allow for control of where dairies and other businesses locate to mitigate nuisances such as odor and insects.

They quickly backed away from the issue during their regular meeting Tuesday. The issue has come to light recently with the aid of a petition being circulated regarding a sewer lagoon at Stepping Stone Dairy just south of Portales city limits.

Eastern New Mexico University regents passed a resolution recently against nuisance odors and intend to send administration officials to a May 10 New Mexico Environment Department hearing on the lagoon permit.

Commissioner David Sanders reported to fellow commissioners he and County Administrator Charlene Hardin had attended the regents meeting. He said he understood why they adopted the resolution but said he didn’t think it would do much good.

“I think that it’s (regents’ resolution) basically a waste of time,” Sanders said. “I think Breshears (dairy operator Kevin Breshears) has conformed to the application process.”

Commissioner Bill Cathey asked County Attorney Randy Knudson if the county could limit the number of cows or dairies in its boundaries. He said his biggest concern was loss of groundwater to their expansion.

Knudson said any effort in that direction would have to be through zoning and probably zoning in specific areas for specific uses. He raised doubts how successful such a measure would be because the county would have to demonstrate how residents are being harmed by the industry being unzoned.

“If you filled up the district courtroom for fires (public hearing on fire ban), you’d better reserve Greyhound Arena (for this debate),” Sanders said. “The dairy industry is a real blessing to Roosevelt County. The taxes and revenue it generates are important.”
In other business commissioners:

• Approved new by-laws for the Roosevelt County Community Development Corp., which is reorganizing. Roosevelt County has been a member in the past.

• Received thanks from Elida Mayor Kay Nuckols for the county’s help on obtaining a Community Block Development Grant for work on the town’s water system.

• Approved a notice of intent to adopt a new county personnel ordinance updating hiring and employment procedures.

• Approved a resolution supporting the Roosevelt County project listed in the 2007 Grip 2 legislation. The legislation provides $220,000 for reconstruction of Roosevelt Road 7.

• Approved the 2007 Legislative General Fund Appropriation Grant agreement which will provide a total of $590,100 for two projects at La Casa Family Health Center, $100,000 for fairground improvements and $400,000 for road department equipment and vehicles.

• Further discussed a request from the owners of Grande Vida Dairy to make the road servicing that dairy a county road. No action was taken but commissioners expressed a reluctance to take the road unless it is improved first.