Belen city councilors considering enforcing quadrant ordinance

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Belen city councilors discussed implementing or amending an ordinance that may result in citywide address changes.

Addresses throughout the city, from residents to local businesses, partially abide by the city quadrant ordinance, outlining guidelines for street naming and property numbering.

The ordinance states the city should be divided into four quadrants: northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest, which should be reflected in property numbers and street names.

Although property numbering follows this law, street names do not, the city's Planning and Zoning Director Steve Tomita told councilors at their Nov. 19 meeting.

"This is a major step. We need to actually change our utility bills, change everybody's addresses, yellow pages, our signage, everything," Tomita said. "I need direction from the council on what to do next."

Councilors can choose to amend or repeal this ordinance, which was adopted in 1998.

The center line of the quadrants is marked by Becker Avenue, west of Delgado Avenue and east of River Road.

If the ordinance were implemented, street names would be changed to include the quadrant where the property is located in relation to the center line. For example, city hall's address of 100 S. Main St. would turn into 100 Main St. SW.

If city councilors decide to take this direction, new street signs would need to be purchased, as well as correcting the city's geographic information system.

Belen Police Chief Dan Robb pointed out that the city is already split into four quadrants north, south, east and west.

But Tomita argued, identifying such quadrants may be difficult for a street that doesn't run from north to south or west to east.

"If we have a road that curves or circles through the city, that would create confusion. It's not just a north street or a south street," he said. "There's no sense of direction and they don't know where they are. That's why quadrants need to be in street naming."

Implementing such an ordinance would cost residents and businesses by changing their address on signage, letterhead and business cards. Besides this ordinance, others coming before the council have been costing residents financially, which is why Councilor Mary Aragon said she was against it.

"I'm not in favor of this. I don't think we're big enough to where we need to have southeast, southwest, northeast or whatever," said Aragon.

Councilor Jerah Cordova added that he couldn't see the benefits of enforcing this ordinance either.

"We see the burden very clear, but I don't see the benefit yet," Cordova said.

If long-term benefits of following the ordinance could be identified, then amending this ordinance would be looked at "seriously," Cordova said.

If needed, it may be more financially feasible to change these addresses now, compared to a few years down the road with inflation, Cordova added.

"But if there is no long-term benefits and it's working the way it is now, I think the public's fine with the way it is, and we should amend the ordinance to reflect the way it is," he said.

Although there isn't a "big rush" to move on this issue, Tomita said it is something that needs to be resolved before the city experiences growth.


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