New P&Z commissioners appointed

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Valencia County planning and zoning commission got a few new faces this year and a reorganization at its first meeting of 2013 last month.

Due to redistricting and a November election, three members of the five-person board are new this year.

New board members are Dennis "DJ" Baca, Brandon Jaramillo and Mike Milam.

Baca is a retired BNSF employee who has lived in Valencia County for more than 20 years, he said.

Milam, who is a realtor of 28 years, and grew up in Jarales; and Jaramillo, the owner and operator of B Jar Construction, is a life-long resident of the county.

The two familiar faces on the commission — Joan Artiaga and Greg Gaudette — have served on the commission for the past two years. Artiaga lives south of Belen and served as county clerk for two terms.

Gaudette is a local attorney who has lived in the county for 16 years.

When it came time to reorganize the board, selecting a chairperson and vice chairperson, Milam suggested that since Artiaga and Gaudette had the most experience in running the meetings, they be appointed to the positions.

Artiaga suggested Gaudette would be a good chairman, since he is an attorney. However, Gaudette gently side-stepped the idea, saying he had been on the commission for two years and asking Artiaga how long she had served.

"One month longer," Artiaga said.

Gaudette quickly nominated Artiaga as chairwoman, with a second from Milam.

"Ah ha," Artiaga said, chuckling. "I will serve if the board wishes."

She was elected chairwoman on a 4-0 vote.

Moving on to the position of vice chairperson, Artiaga nominated Gaudette and Baca seconded. The measure was again approved on an unanimous vote.

The commissioners approved a modified version of Robert's Rules of Order as their parliamentary procedure for meetings. Under the modified version, the chairwoman isn't allowed to make a motion, but she may second a motion and has an equal vote on cases.

The board also unanimously voted to keep the planning and zoning meetings at 4 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month, and approved its Open Meetings Act resolution for the year. Artiaga noted that the P&Z commission does not meet unless it has business to consider.

The one request before the board in February was a request for a variance, which was granted on a 5-0 vote.

Paul Gomez asked the commissioners to allow 15-foot setbacks on his commercially zoned property, instead of the required 25 feet.

"We have lived there for 12 years and are rebuilding our house after a fire," Gomez said. "It is commercially zoned for some reason. It's not feasible for us to build to the commercial setbacks of 25 feet."

Gomez said when the property was purchased and the original mobile home placed, he did not know it had commercial zoning.

"Now that we are rebuilding and having the lot surveyed, we've found out it's commercial," he said.

The commissioners did condition the approval of the variance on Gomez's agreement that the property would remain in residential use, not commercial.

Gomez said he had no problem with the condition, noting that he had residential neighbors on each side of his property, one of which was his in-laws.

The variance and condition will run with the property, according to Jacobo Martinez, the county planner.


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