By Dick Ulmer – On Thursday evening, January 12, Placitas showed the new slate of County Commissioners just how strongly we feel about the gravel mines that threaten our property values, our water resources and even the air we breathe. Wearing the bright yellow stickers (thank you, Doug and Pat Sporn for providing those) which literally shouted from the Commission chambers “Stop Placitas Gravel Mining!”—the 70 seats in the room went quickly and even the standing areas were filled. The Commission Chairman wasted no time in acknowledging the Placitas presence, stating “We’ve never had this many attend one of our meetings—and thank you for being here!”
Bob Gorrell, ES-CA President, and Dick Ulmer, LPT Chairman, briefly shared with the Commission the research done in cooperation with Las Placitas Association—showing them the substantial economic benefits of those who had been attracted to our community by its peace and beauty. But then Big Gravel raised its ugly head, expanding without reclamation or concern for the impact on surrounding residents—and now with the potential of yet another “top 5” sized mine with the potential lease/sale of BLM land increasing the gravel sandwich of Placitas neighborhoods. We shared results gathered recently from the particulate monitor installed by NM Air Quality Bureau and on water use comparisons from local water cooperatives—all of which point to the importance of having conforming uses of Placitas lands, and not continued mining activity.
Our purpose with the Commission was twofold:
1) To enlist their continued help in communicating to state and federal officials the inconsistency with County policy as represented by Placitas Plan
2) To impress on them the importance of the Commission providing the resources and need for urgency in winning the current lawsuit filed by the County to enforce zoning terms on landowners and gravel operators arguing that no such oversight exists.
As we told the Commission—our residents need to know that we can “count on the County” in protecting our properties and conforming land uses against those who choose to be non-conforming.
We were encouraged by the attentiveness and questions that followed the presentation. They have agreed that they should look again at the Resolution that was issued by the prior Commission, with the intent passing it again and for the purpose of demonstrating the continued support by this Commission for uses of the BLM land which are consistent with the shared vision of the County and Placitas residents.
As the Commissioners could not publicly comment on the pending litigation, we will closely watch what happens in the courtroom for confirmation that they also understand the significance of our second request. . . and the opportunity for the County to regain its economic potential by restoring the quality of life that brought us to Placitas.
We thank each and every one of you who turned out in order to put a really big exclamation mark at the end of our message!