In new business at the Tuesday meeting, county commissioners heard from residents of Loma Verde Road requesting county maintenance of the road.
Resident Lonny Sandoval served as the spokesman. He said the road is considered a private road, and it is in very bad condition. "It's costing us too much to put material into it. Earl Moore said it wouldn't cost that much to bring it to standards. We have gathered signatures, and we understand we will be taxed to maintain the road. I think it is already dedicated to the county."
Planner and former Road Superintendent Anthony Gutierrez said he was mistaken and that the road is not dedicated to the county. "The developer chose the road to remain private. According to the road ordinance, all landowners who abut, cross or are adjacent to the road must sign a petition to dedicate the road to the county. One hundred percent of owners must sign it."
He explained that in order to create an improvement district to raise the road to standards, the road must be dedicated to the county. Then an improvement district can be formed, requiring only two-thirds of the landowners to sign.
Saari said the residents could pay for the improvement district in full or go to the New Mexico Finance Authority for a loan.
Sandoval referred to a court document dated 1992 that indicated the road had been brought up to standards at that time.
Resident Patricia Rogers said she has lived on the road since 1979 and said the road was up to standards, but several times the standards have changed. "It will be hard to expand it because several areas were filled with huge rocks."
Sally Young said she has lived in the area for 26 years, and "in the past, we always got the run-around."
"We want to find a solution," Kasten said.
Young said the road impedes ambulance and hospice service, although the Sheriff's Department comes if called, but does not patrol. "The road is so bad, when the creek floods, it is impossible to cross. It is unfair to tax residents when our contract said (developer) Decker would bring the road to county standards. He didn't fulfill the contract. Now dropping it on the residents is unfair. All of us have signed petitions many times."
"You have valid concerns," Gutierrez said. "I know the road has come up for consideration before. To my knowledge you never got 100 percent of the residents to sign."
Moore said he did an estimate a couple of years ago up to the low-water crossing and estimated it would cost about $130,000 to improve the road, but now he understands the road continues for about four-tenths of a mile.
Sandoval asked how much property was needed for the road. Moore said 30 feet out on each side from the center of the road. Sandoval asked who would survey it.
"The ordinance is specific that you have to provide the plat," Gutierrez said. "We may be able to utilize the old survey. But at some point, there will have to be a legal description and an added expense for the plat."
"We'll do what we can do, but we don't know how to do it," Sandoval said.
Gutierrez said he would get a list of all the residents on the road, so they can be approached to sign a petition to designate the road to the county as the first step.
Kasten asked Villa if taxes would go up with an improved road. Villa replied that the rates would go up only if there were sales.
In other business, the county approved:
• An application for fiscal year 2013 Fire Protection Grant for the Pinos Altos Volunteer Fire and Rescue for $39,200, including a match from the department's fire protection grant funds of $7,840. Equipment requested are automatic defibrillators, bunker gear, a washing machine, portable cascade system and an ATV and trailer to carry water for initial attack into remote areas;
• An application from the Santa Rita Volunteer Fire Department for $52,140, including the department match of $10,428. Equipment requested includes various tools, hoses, connectors, a generator, self-contained breathing apparatuses and cylinders, as well as scene lights;
• A professional services agreement with El Refugio, Inc. to provide to the county data on domestic violence, emergency shelter for DV victims, a toll-free hotline, advocacy, counseling and education services, as well as intervention programs, public outreach and training, with the county proclaiming each October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, supporting El Refugio and the Sexual Assault Task Force by attending meetings and to pay $10,000 in one lump sum for the services. Saari said Grant County has risen from 17th worst in the state in domestic violence to sixth;
• An agreement for services with The Wellness Coalition for $28,235 to send youths to do maintenance at Bataan Memorial Park;
• A cooperative marketing grant agreement with the New Mexico Tourism Department for a 50 percent match of $6,000 spent to market the county for tourism;
• A resolution authorizing the lease of six motor graders for the Road Department at 2.9 percent interest and a payment of $5,270 a month for 60
months, with an option at the end to pay about $25,000 each to keep them or the option of turning them in;
• A notice of intent to adopt an ordinance for Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages by the drink. County Attorney David Gorman said it is a local option of the Liquor Control Act, and allows the issue to be put on the general election ballot. Drinks may be sold from 12 noon to 12 midnight and on Dec. 31, if it falls on a Sunday from 12 noon to 2 a.m.; and
• Authorization for submission of a special appropriations agreement to the New Mexico Environment Department for a lift station for sewer system improvements at the Fort Bayard Medical Center.
The final article in the series will cover additional county reports and financial reports, as well as support of New Mexico Association of Counties' legislative priorities.