Silver City -- Managing land use and zoning issues are a key function of local government, and thoughtful use of local zoning and land use regulations help shape and preserve the character of the place that people call home. Zoning also creates a foundation for the health and safety of local residents and visitors alike. 

In New Mexico, municipalities are required by law to develop a comprehensive plan every 10 years, which serves as the guide for land use and other matters, and sets forth the town's goals with regard to where various activities may take place.  This planning document considers local transportation, recreation and open space, economic development, housing and other issues which help shape daily life in Silver City, and serves as a road map for all local development.

From the comprehensive plan, local zoning is created. A zone is a mapped district of the town that identifies a set of provisions for the regulation of land uses.  Silver City's zoning map identifies nine specific zoning designations, and also outlines the four historic districts of the original town site. (Silver City's Comprehensive Plan is available on the town's website at www.townofsilvercity.org, and the zoning map is an appendix of that plan.)

When a zoning change is required, the Community Development Department is an applicant's first stop. Priscilla Arredondo, the town's zoning administrator, planner and mapper, then determines next steps, depending on the property, its location, proposed use and other considerations. 

"Every situation is unique," she said, "but generally, an application is filled out, we gather any additional documentation, neighbors are notified, and the matter goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission, which holds a public hearing on the request, then makes a recommendation to the Town Council." 

The applicant, with the help of Arredondo, is required to notify neighbors within 300 feet of the proposed zoning change, provide each with an opportunity to discuss the application, and inform them of public hearings on the application.  Public hearings are held first by the town's Planning and Zoning Commission, then by the Town Council, which has the final say on all zoning matters.

Property owners affected by any proposed zoning changes receive at least two letters advising them of the request for zoning change, the rationale for the change, and specific instructions regarding who to contact for more information. Additionally, a large yellow sign is placed on the property in question with public hearing information, and the Community Development Department's phone number.  State law also requires that notices of the public hearings must be published in local newspapers, and that information is also posted to the town's website.  

"If you receive a letter about a zoning change near you, we encourage you to contact our office for more information," said Arredondo.  "It's also important to remember that just because a particular type of business or use is allowed within a certain zoning district, that doesn't mean that business or use will be allowed, because there are also very specific land and commercial development requirements, and other considerations to be addressed.  Again, every situation is unique."

For more information about local zoning or land use, please contact Arredondo at (575) 534-6732 or parredondo@silvercitymail.com.