By Lynn Janes
The town of Bayard held a regular town meeting March 13, 2023. The meeting started with Mayor Chon Fierro calling the meeting to order. Attendance at the meeting included Mayor Pro tem Raul Villanueva councilors Jose Diaz, Eloy Medina, and Frances Gonzales. The Pledge of Allegiance and salute to New Mexico flag took place.
The council approved the agenda with one change. The council will postpone the police chief evaluation.
James Irving wanted to ask some questions about planning and zoning. The council could not answer them in public comment. He provided them with copies of the questions he had. "I understand that under municipal ordinances you are supposed to have a planning and zoning commission." He questioned if they had one and if so, who worked on it. Irving said he had the impression they should have five and the public needed to know who. The commission should also have a zoning officer for people to reach out to. They need some clarity, and it should be on the next agenda and have it all on the public record. He read the ordinance to the council.
The council approved the consent agenda which included several items. Minutes from the February 27, 2023, meeting, accounts payable report March 13, 2023, fire report for February 2023, wastewater treatment plant report for February 2023, library report from February 2023 and municipal court report February 2023. It also included clerks' and finance officer training for Clerk Marlena Valenzuela and Deputy Clerk Tanya Ortiz. New and future police chief training for Police Chief Hector Carrillo.
Selina Crespin wanted to address the council concerning abandoned properties, specifically two businesses located on East Street. It also tied in with the recent possibility of a solar farm in the city. She described the condition of both properties and provided the council with photos. She asked if it had been zoned industrial and who would be responsible for communicating with the owners. She wanted to know if they have been required to follow ordinances and if they had been cited. She also wanted to know if the city held regular planning and zoning meetings and who was on the commission. She also questioned who would be responsible for inspecting businesses and industrial properties for safety. She came back around to the solar farm. "How can they trust the city of Bayard to assure the residents that the same thing will not happen with the solar farm?"
Fierro said he didn't know about the citations but has tried to call the number on the sign and first no one ever answered and then it had been disconnected. Other means would have to be pursued. He said the property had been zoned industrial and was a cement plant. He had been able to find out the owner lived in Albuquerque but needed to go through the assessor to get further contact information.
Crespin said it has been abandoned for years and why should they trust the solar farm.
Medina said the solar farm would not be happening.
Crespin said "We have a problem with abandoned properties."
Raul Turrieta with the assessor's office had attended the meeting to address the council and he said he would help get that information on the property for them. The assessor's office will be doing a list of abandoned properties and would pass that on to the city.
Medina said they needed to have a meeting to discuss this issue, and Gonzales said she had environmental concerns about it. "We need to look at the planning and zoning ordinances and see what we have." She thanked them for bringing it up. Villanueva asked the fire chief to bring in the business inspections he has done next time. They talked about how often he does the inspections of business properties.
Turrieta said, on April 1, the notice of evaluation would be sent out. "It is an important document; it breaks down the valuation of the home and land." He told them they have exemptions they might qualify for and have 30 days from the first of April to contest the evaluation. "Please come and talk with us, I have an open door." They have a 3 percent cap on increases each year. He explained how the process worked and what exemptions could be available. He reiterated the importance of the valuation document. He also said they would be including directions on how to opt in for e-notice. It costs them $9,000 to send out the evaluations. E-notice would make them able to email the information. Turrieta said you can always go online and print a hard copy of the evaluation information for your property.
Hector Carrillo, police chief, had concerns about a subcommittee being formed for ordinances. Diaz said they have not done anything yet but if they do, he and the fire chief would be contacted.
Sonya Dixon, librarian, had not been able to attend to give an update on the summer reading program.
The council approved the resignation of Luz Lozano from the police department. A lot of discussion went on around it, and Gonzales didn't want her to resign.
The council went into closed session.
The council came back into open session and said no action had taken place.
Mayor and councilors report
Villanueva none currently
Medina none currently
Gonzales wanted to announce that Gabe Vasquez, state representative, will be looking for a high school student to intern. June the Bayard library would be having an event at the little league field.
Diaz said the beautification committee would be having bingo night on Sunday and selling posole before.
Robert Terrazas, wastewater director, reported some repairs that had been made.
Michael Paez, public works director, didn't have anything to report.
Euphemio Gonzales, fire chief, said he still wanted to know what has held up getting the roof fixed. The materials have arrived and are on site. Diaz said he would get the contractor's number and call.
Hector Carrillo, police chief, said their body cam contract will be up soon and they can upgrade them to better ones for not a lot of difference in cost. They still have training going on and he would like to change the decals on the police cars. He added that they would be getting back some of the grants that had been lost.
Valenzuela said she had talked to Jennifer Pierce with the railroads, and they had not forgotten them and have been working on it. They have been trying to figure out a better route. Valenzuela got in contact with SW Concrete, and they will be coming to do the potholes in the next week.
Fierro said he had talked with Dr. Jeff Spaletta, superintendent at Cobre and he had invited the council to attend a needs assessment meeting for the districts strategic plan on March 21, 2023. It will be held at Bayard Elementary.
Next meeting will be held March 27, 2023