Belen won't annex RC; election set

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The decision for incorporation of Rio Communities will now completely be in the hands of its citizens.

They will vote for or against incorporation in a January election.

This comes after Belen city officials unanimously approved a resolution Monday for Rio Communities to move forward with incorporating itself as a municipality.

At the last council meeting, the city's Director of Planning and Zoning and Economic Development Chief Steven Tomita urged councilors to not annex the community into Belen at this time. He said the responsibilities and costs of undertaking the community would weigh down the city further than it could handle.

"It was my opinion that this was not the time probably for the city to be looking at annexation of Rio Communities," Tomita said. "There were other things that were of more priority at this point."

The resolution states that "it is not in the best economic interest to the city of Belen to pursue the annexation of Rio Communities at this time."

City officials received a letter from Rio Communities on Sept. 8 requesting the approval of this resolution.

Under New Mexico state statute, an urban territory, which is what Rio Communities is considered to be due to its close proximity to Belen, it must receive approval through a resolution from Belen to approve its own incorporation.

Although there could be value to the annexation of Rio Communities to Belen, doing so is dependent upon the economy, said Belen City Councilor Jerah Cordova.

However, an alternative to making the transition of full annexation of Rio Communities manageable would be to annex one portion at a time.

"I think that there are alternatives which would limit the annexation and then grow that over a period of time that maybe more feasible," Cordova said.

Rio Communities resident Helen Smith said partial annexation is an extreme form of disenfranchisement and would be "self serving of the city of Belen. To take a piece of our community prevents the rest of the community from taking any action at all and yet leaves us citizens totally unsupported."

Mayor Rudy Jaramillo said that the city should either annex all of Rio Communities or not at all.

Councilor David Carter said a number of his friends and family had no idea of the association's efforts to incorporate, which was crucial in making an informed decision during the January election.

"I do not want to see anyone left out of the process," Carter said.

Tierra Grande resident Sue Moran assured councilors the association is doing everything in their power to reach out and inform all residents.

"Rest assured, we are working at 120 percent to let everyone know," Moran said.

Before councilors cast their votes on the decision, Mark Gwinn, president of Rio Communities Association, asked councilors to leave the decision of incorporation to its residents.

"All we're asking is to give us our resolution that we can take in front of the residents of Rio Communities and Chamisa and allow our people to make the decision to incorporate or to not incorporate and then we take it from there," Gwinn said.


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