Public hearing set for next week on the Tomé/Adelino overlay zone

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A new land-use ordinance for parts of Tomé and Adelino will get its moment in the sun next week.

Valencia County commissioners voted unanimously to go forward with a public hearing for a proposed zoning ordinance that would control commercial development in the historical community along N.M. 47.

The plan is the end result of a six-month moratorium on new commercial development in the area to allow local landowners and the county administration time to develop a plan to handle future commercial properties.

A public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, in the county commission chambers, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas.

Before approving the publication of the title and summary of the ordinance at the Sept. 4 meeting, Valencia County Commissioner Alicia Aguilar said she had some concerns.

"I would like our attorneys to look at this before we move forward," Aguilar said. "I have concerns about things like restrictive covenants that are already in place. I want to make sure we have had legal direction on this."

County Planner Jacobo Martinez said with the time needed for publication and the timing of the commission's next public hearing, there would be six weeks to review the document.

"I think that is plenty of time," Martinez said. "I would like to move the process forward since the moratorium is ending."

The moratorium is set to end on Oct. 11.

Commissioner Mary Andersen asked county attorney Dave Pato if he felt there was enough time for him to review the proposed ordinance before the hearing.

"Absolutely," Pato replied.

He noted that the document the commissioners had is only a draft that most likely will change.

"The purpose of this process is to get public input," Pato said.

Martinez said the next step was to get as many people as possible interested in reviewing the plan.

"The hearing will bring out issues and concerns people may have," he said.

When Andersen made a motion to go ahead with publication, Aguilar countered, saying, "This is in Commissioner Eaton's and my district."

Andersen pointed out no one else had made a motion.

"Fine, let her make a motion," Aguilar said.

Eaton seconded the motion, which passed 5-0.

The plan was also presented to the county planning and zoning commission on Aug. 28 by Martinez for review and comments. The board did not take any action.

Martinez said the major changes proposed by the plan would be to create an overlay zone for the existing commercial zones.

According to the plan, the Historic Commercial Overlay Zone is designed to enhance existing community commercial focal points with zoning features that feature appropriate use, public space and design strategies.

It goes on to say that a historic commercial center is an area of current and future commercial focus within Tomé/Adelino.

"The difference between this and past commercial zoning is some of the uses and design guidelines," Martinez said. "Those were put in because we believe it will enhance the community."

The plan includes examples of acceptable and unacceptable commercial improvements for signs, lighting, walls and fences, parking, vegetation and landscaping and architectural design in the Historic Commercial Overlay Zone.

Prohibited uses include drive-through or drive-in businesses, car washes, contractors' yards, service and/or gas stations, auto repair shops and adult entertainment facilities.

There are more than two dozen allowable uses, including a winery and tasting room, a park, an animal feed store, adobe sales, a government facility, greenhouse, grocery/food store and blacksmith.

Martinez said development of any business, even acceptable ones, would still have to go through the county's design review process and, if approved, adhere to the criteria in the overlay zone.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Brandon Jaramillo said there was a lot of talk about how the new plan would spur economic development and asked how it would encourage businesses to locate in the community.

"This is a place for people outside the community to enjoy a different kind of place," Martinez said. "To stop at a small restaurant or get some wine and, on the drive home, hit a gas station when they get to Los Lunas or onto Manzano Expressway."

Peter Lupsha, a Tomé resident and member of the advisory committee that put together the plan, said as a thought exercise, the committee was asked if it could magically pick up and transport the Luna Mansion and Teofilos Restaurant to Tomé, would it be acceptable and why.

"It would be because those two establishments are authentic. We are looking for quality and authenticity. We don't want the quantity that Los Lunas wants," Lupsha said. "We don't want soulless, mind-numbing development and big box stores. With quality comes high home values."

Lupsha continued, saying the federal census tract that coincides with the area under the new overlay zone is No. 2 in education level in the county and has a median income of $70,000.

"That clientele is unique. You won't see the kind of development you see in Los Lunas or on N.M. 550 in Bernalillo," he said. "You'll see places like the Luna Mansion and Teofilos. Bed and breakfasts."

Jaramillo said most of the things Lupsha described were already present in the area and conducive to that type of resident.

"What does this do more than what is already being done?" he asked.

Lupsha said it protects what's already there.

"It's knowing there is a small area of the county that is going to be special with agriculture, open space," he said.

The plan also introduces a special zoning overlay for Tomé Hill — the Cerro de Tomè Zone — "to protect this site as a sacred, recreational space for many years to come."

Jaramillo asked if the plan would be presented to the county commissioners strictly as a yes or no proposition. "Do they adopt it wholly or not?"

"Basically this is a draft," Lupsha said. "We will be open to change and development, within limits. We are happy as this goes forward to incorporate more changes."

Now that the committee has drafted the proposed ordinance, Lupsha said, as he saw it, the commissioners has three choices — reject the plan, accept it or extend the moratorium for another six months and allow the committee to continue, making changes the planning and zoning board or commissioners would like to see.

A review copy of the plan will be available to the public at the county clerk's office.

A limited number of take-home copies of the plan will be available at the planning and zoning office; it also will be posted on the county website, www.co.valencia.nm.us.


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