BF council extends moratorium on business licenses

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The village council is moving forward quickly with revisions to its ordinances on commercial enterprises along Bosque Farms Boulevard.

Last month, the planning and zoning commission began reviewing the ordinances, focusing on regulating types of businesses that may have a negative impact on the village and are currently unregulated.

To allow for the ordinance revision, the council enacted a 60-day moratorium on new business licenses and building permits along the boulevard.

After a flurry of public workshops, the planning and zoning commissioners finalized draft changes for the ordinance last week and passed it on to the council for its consideration.

Since the councilors are considering revising an ordinance, the public must be notified and the considered changes advertised for two weeks before changes can be voted on.

The original moratorium was due to expire on July 25, so Thursday evening councilors voted 4-0 to extend the moratorium another 60 days with the intent to review and vote on any changes to the ordinance as soon as legally possible.

The soonest the councilors can take action is Aug. 9. If the changes to the ordinance are approved at that time, village attorney David Chavez said the moratorium could be immediately terminated.

Village Clerk/Administrator Gayle Jones told the councilors copies of the amended ordinance will be available to the public at village hall. The councilors scheduled a workshop to review the amendments and take public input for 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 6, following the regular planning and zoning meeting.

Loretta Hatch, village planning and zoning officer, said there are "businesses lined up waiting" for approval of licenses and permits that want to locate on the village's main commercial corridor. The moratorium does not apply to home-occupation business licenses in Bosque Farms.

During the two-week advertising period, or however long the council wants to review the ordinance, Jones said it can be amended and changed.

"We need to let people know there will be this workshop and the ordinance might change," she said. "Once it's adopted, we have to advertise it again and it goes into effect five days after."

Councilor Dolly Wallace made a motion to advertise the amendments to the ordinance, and both councilor Wayne Ake and Russ Walkup offered a second.

The amendments to the ordinance were fairly extensive, but the goal was fairly simple — define businesses the village wants regulated and implement a mechanism that keeps them from over-populating the boulevard.

During discussions at the planning and zoning commission workshops, it was acknowledged that the village couldn't place an out-and-out ban on certain types of businesses without facing possible legal action for discrimination.

However, it did have the authority to pass regulations that prevented those types of business from settling cheek to jowl along Bosque Farms Blvd. The ordinances the planning and zoning commission reviewed during the workshops prevented that by specifying distances regulated businesses had to be from each other.

Many of the ordinances referred to this practice as "anti skid row" legislation.

Ake said he didn't see a definition for "skid row" in the ordinance, commenting that was probably something that was needed.

"And, it's not that I don't agree, but is that term, from a legal standpoint, going to be seen as discriminatory?" he asked.

Chavez said there wouldn't be a problem, calling the term a "word of art."

"It's a commonly accepted term for those types of businesses and they are referred to as such in other ordinances," he said.

Walkup said when the ordinance defines the location of an anti skid row class one regulated business, it mentions that the business should not be within a 300-foot radius of an R-1 or R-1A zone, the village's residential zoning.

"Why wasn't AR (agricultural residential) considered?" Walkup asked. "We do have some that abuts commercial property."

Hatch said that could be added to the definition, saying the agricultural properties were "overlooked."

Walkup thanked Hatch and the commissioners for the time and work they put into amending the ordinance.

"We appreciate all of the time you spent coming up with wording and putting this all together in a very comprehensive package," he said.

Sharon Eastman, a planning and zoning commissioner, said if the council was going to put out kudos, then some needed to go to Hatch.

"Loretta did a magnificent job on this. We sat and brainstormed, and she put it all into a reasonable order and did it fast," Eastman said. "She did a fantastic job."

The motion passed 4-0.

Additions to the ordinance include definitions for adult entertainment establishment, bail bond, banking and financial services, body art, body art/modification establishment, check cashing/pay day loan establishment, fortune tellers, metal intake/recycling center, pawn broker, secondhand dealer, smoke shop, solid fence, motor vehicle sales lot and visual barrier fence.

Under the definition of body art, practices that are considered "medical procedures by the New Mexico Medical Board" are exempt and a body art/modification establishment excludes salons that provide the application of permanent makeup with appropriate equipment.

The planning and zoning commissioners had expressed concern about lumping businesses that provide permanent makeup in with shops that offer body tattoos and scarification.

The commission also made changes to the permissive uses of the ordinance, specifically that, while secondhand dealers were allowed in the commercial zone, no merchandise will be allowed "for display" on the exterior of the building; all merchandise is to remain inside the building.

The most significant change to the ordinance is a new section on regulated businesses. The businesses are broken down into Class I and Class II and both must get the approval of the planning and zoning commission.

Class I regulated businesses include adult entertainment, body art/modification, check cashing/pay day loan and bail bond establishments, smoke shops, pawn brokers and fortune tellers. Class II regulated businesses are motor vehicle and mobile home/manufactured home sales lots and metal intake/recycling centers.

Any and all other business activities not covered in the ordinance shall be disallowed except by completing and filing a regulated business exception permit with the planning and zoning commission for its consideration.

To keep the regulated businesses from dominating the boulevard, the ordinance also establishes distances between regulated businesses, as well as distances from certain types of properties. A Class I regulated business cannot be closer than 1,000 feet, as measured along the boulevard, from another Class I or II regulated business.

Class I cannot be within a 1,000 foot radius from a school property line, a state-licensed child care center and/or large family day care facility and youth frequented locations or within a 300 foot radius from any lot or parcel zoned R1, R1A or AR.

Class II regulated businesses cannot be closer than 1,000 feet, as measured along the boulevard, from another Class I or II regulated business or within a 300 foot radius from any lot or parcel zoned R1, R1A or AR.

Both classes of businesses shall pay an annual regulated business administration fee of $300.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.