PERALTA — Peralta residents will have opportunities to share their visions of the town’s N.M. 47 curb appeal, starting with a workshop on Dec. 11.
At a joint workshop Nov. 13, the Town Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission raised several questions during a discussion on an overlay plan for commercial development along the highway.
“I think what we really need to look at is basically starting a Main Street,” said Mayor Bryan Olguin. “There are a lot of funds out there for main street programs, and there’s been a couple of businesses looking to come out here.”
The process to develop the overlay will likely stretch for many months or more than a year, Olguin said.
For this reason, a 180-day moratorium was approved Sept. 25 to allow time for town officials to review the zoning ordinance with respect to development along the N.M. 47 corridor.
The moratorium puts on hold any applications for special use permits, site plan approvals, new signage or building permits on property along the highway. However, there is no moratorium on property sales and as long as the new business is within the ordinance, the moratorium will not affect it, Olguin said.
One of the issues discussed is that the town’s zoning ordinance doesn’t have a lot of muscle in regards to what is built along N.M. 47 that might not be pleasing to the eye or wanted by residents or the commission, Olguin said.
“We have a beautiful town here — I think we really ought to address an overlay along Highway 47 ... we want to keep it looking good,” Olguin said.
As it stands, the ordinance does have some restrictions but it does not have any rules regarding controversial-type businesses, such as adult entertainment clubs, said Councilor Randy Smith.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad business but it may not be something that the council and the community really want to see (on its Main Street),” Smith said. “I think that’s another thing we need to look at giving a little more teeth to the ordinance.”
Olguin and Smith said there had been police calls from an establishment on the highway from nearby residences because of disturbances there.
“Is that what we want in our community on our highway frontage,” Smith said. “If we don’t define that — it’s wide open.”
That’s why it’s important to require a special use permit, because that requires council approval and gives residents the opportunity to give their input, he said.
There are historic Peralta buildings on the state registry that could be capitalized on for tourism, said resident Margaret Brandt.
“I’m a transplant and the thing that jumps out to me about Peralta is how old it is, how much history it has, how much culture,” Brandt said. “If you had businesses that came here that brought that alive, I think that would be (excellent.)”
Using Corrales and Old Town as examples, she said people go to eat dinner or shop there because of the experience, and Peralta could exploit the fact that it has one of the oldest churches.
There is also the old Peralta school house as well as the church on the state historic registry and The Battle of Peralta site.
The town’s commercial ordinance states that exteriors of structures facing Highway 47, particularly where historical and culture elements can be preserved, enhanced or simulated, shall construct exterior building surfaces in this zone district with wood, stucco, bricks, stone, adobe or similar materials rather than metal, plastic siding, curtain walls and other materials.
Businesses that are already established in the town on N.M. 47 are grandfathered in, Olguin said.
The goals of the overlay include adding to the zone ordinance’s list of definitions and designating what types of businesses would require special use zoning.
There are plans to study the commercial development of other municipalities of comparable size and consult with the Middle Rio Grand Office of Governments.
The mayor said a mailer will be sent to all property owners along N.M. 47 to get their input, since they are the ones who will be affected the most.
The next joint workshop will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 11 at Town Hall, 90 A Molina Road.