Saturday, July 31, 2010

UPDATE: One Year Later, Where Are We?

We have become aware of a upcoming meeting of interest. According to a recent news release from Commissioner Virginia Vigil:

The Santa Fe Regional Planning Authority is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, August 17, 2010, at the County Commission Chambers. The meeting will convene at 4pm. An update on the City-Initiated Annexation Plan will be presented at this meeting. For a copy of the complete agenda, please contact Melissa Holmes at:

NOTE: When we contacted the above email address, Melissa Holmes responded that we should contact Reed Liming, City Long Range Planning Director. When we contacted his office, we were told "Reed Liming is out of the office and will return on Monday, August 9th." We are continuing to attempt to obtain an agenda for the August 17 meeting, when available, it will be posted here.

(Here are all the contacts for the Regional Planning Committee)

In case you missed it, the Santa Fe New Mexican ran this editorial on August 29:

City land rush ignored the costs

As Julie Ann Grimm reported in yesterday's New Mexican, City Hall is facing up to the costs and benefits of annexation. To which we'd say, it's about time, considering that our city councilors blithely ignored long-range planner Reed Liming's calls for caution when they were licking their chops over 10,000 acres they began putting under municipal jurisdiction in 2008.

The process is being done in three phases — a good thing, given the city's precarious finances and the price tag for providing services to territory long at the mercy of slick developers notorious for making — but less than famous for keeping — promises to homebuyers.

Anticipated costs were always in front of the council — yet most of its members chose to avert their eyes, focusing instead on some imaginary sales-tax windfall that would come with so much more property under their control.

Liming, say City Hall insiders, had suggested that it might take an across-the-board property-tax increase to cover this expanded realm. But again our local politicians flinched. Now they're floundering, and waiting for the results of a cost analysis — something they told Grimm was under way a year ago, but turns out to have only begun this month. This gives those elected leaders a chance to think about their rashness some other day.

But the residents of Menford Lane need action now. That roadway near the intersection of Richards Avenue and Governor Miles Road, just north of the freeway, now has an arroyo through it, owing to recent rains. And — surprise! — the city has no legal obligation to repair or maintain the lane.

What? Weren't the folks there told — by city employees, they claim — that, once annexed, the city would take care of their road?

The neighborhood was annexed this year, but it turns out that Menford and other lanes are private property. That, say the left-in-the-lurch homeowners, was supposed to change when they became part of the city.

Sorry, came the answer from their new government; we can't do anything for you.

Maybe not, on strictly legal grounds; annexation and roads have always been a bunch of statutory spaghetti. Short of condemnation procedures to gain governmental control, say land-use experts, the lane would have to be brought up to municipal standards before the city can accept it.

This is a Catch-22 case: Make the road worthy of public ownership, or it remains private — and it's up to the people who live along it to keep it passable. So where was the attraction in being annexed?

Surely some imaginative official at the city or county level, even at a time when the public paving of a church parking lot has raised civic ire, can call in a piece of equipment to push dirt into the ditch — while neighbors gather to divert it. Or must they pass the hat and rent a front-end loader for short-term relief? Meanwhile, they must be mighty proud to be part of our fine city ...

How many other annexees are finding themselves up the creek? And what can City Hall do for them without angering longtime city residents who also aren't getting the municipal services they should?

While financial experts from The University of New Mexico analyze the monetary costs of annexation, city staff and the council should be considering the political and social downside of expansion. Menford Lane, they're sure to find, is not alone ...

Stay tuned.......

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