September 29, 2022

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Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Low 49F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 60%..
Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Low 49F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 60%.
Updated: September 22, 2022 @ 11:26 pm
Will Hooper/Taos News
Taos County residents work on building an off-grid structure during a ‘VolunTuesday’ event in Carson.

Will Hooper/Taos News
Taos County residents work on building an off-grid structure during a ‘VolunTuesday’ event in Carson.
Taos County’s board of commissioners and administrative staff took the recently-proposed “Livable Environment Ordinance” off the table this week after a group of residents — who primarily live on or near the West Mesa — decried language that would affect their off-grid lifestyles by adding requirements related to curbing “public nuisance,” such as removing drivable vehicles from properties.
“The Taos County Board of Commissioners would like to announce that, following extensive constituent feedback, the proposed Taos County Livable Environment Ordinance will be tabled until such time when there is opportunity to continue discussions with the community at large and invite feedback on community standards regarding potential nuisance properties that may represent a clear threat to public health and safety,” reads a statement from Taos County Public Information Officer and Special Projects Coordinator Anissa Arrambide.
The county clarified the intent of the ordinance was “to give the county authority to deal with nuisance properties which, according to the definition in the Taos County Land Use Regulations, “consists of knowingly creating, performing or maintaining anything without lawful authority affecting a number of citizens.”
They also noted that the proposal had not been officially presented before the council, and had been up for discussion only. “[The ordinance] was never presented in a public hearing in which the outcome would be to approve, deny or approve with conditions,” the statement continued. “Taos County has decided to not pursue the ordinance in its current format, and will reassess, based on community feedback, what qualifies as a public nuisance.”
County residents, who met in Carson earlier this month to discuss the issue, have been publicly against the ordinance since it was first introduced during a July 5 meeting of the Taos County Commissioners. During the last county and town joint meeting, over 20 residents showed up to express their dislike of the ordinance, and to provide other ideas about land use regulations and both off-grid and non-traditional buildings.
During the meeting in Carson prior to the county’s decision to table the Livable Environment Ordinance, residents expressed their distaste for the proposal, and other building codes that hindered their ability to live freely off-grid.
“[The ordinance] is approaching the problem that we were approaching in exactly the wrong way by dividing people by creating citizen snitches by encouraging neighbors to snitch on neighbors, instead of encouraging neighbors to help neighbors” said Stanley Yuen, one of the organizers of the Carson group in regards to how the proposed ordinance would have been enforced.
Aside from halting the Livable Environment Ordinance, those who met in Carson proposed presenting an “owner-builder opt-out” amendment to the Taos County Land Use Regulations. “This amendment is intended to allow the rural residential owner-builder the option to construct owner-occupied residential structures without county plan and inspection oversight, if the property is located in an area defined as rural,” read a part of the proposal.
Another proposition was a moratorium on enforcement of land use regulations regarding trailers, tents and other buildings in question. Taos County resident Angie Fernandez said property owners are getting visits from county officials for a number of code violations. “Whether it’s ‘Oh, you have a trailer and we don’t want anyone living in a trailer,’ you know, there’s been calls for that,” she explained. “Some neighbors have been red tagged just because a neighbor called and didn’t like what they were building.”
“We need different rules, maybe some looser rules, which will actually allow people to not be homeless,” Yuen added.
In its statement, the county administration said it is on the same page. “As public servants, the Taos County Board of Commissioners, Administrative Staff, Planning Department Staff and Solid Waste Department staff all want to work toward policies that better represent the traditional character of Taos County and its residents, and be responsive to issues which might represent threats to public health and safety.”
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My understanding is that the Draconian item that was presented was only for guidelines, not an ordinance proposal as it read!
In my discussions with my council person, this was supposed to be about weed and brush abatement and some took it too far! As we are going to have more and more drought conditions, hotter temperatures in the coming years and decades, a weed and brush abatement ordinance is necessary! The Taos Fire Departments have no authority to cite or enforce any form of weed and brush issues! We should all be a bit more aware since the recent nearby wildfire, but for the most part, property owners are not doing their due diligence for themselves, neighbors and surrounding community.
A brush and weed abatement ordinance is long past due in my opinion. The rest of that proposal was horrible! We have no need to be Draconian, we need baby steps in a proactive fashion! My opinion as someone who has lost 2 homes/everything to arson brush fires in Los Angeles CA and in the Sedona, AZ area! I would hate to see this happen to anyone!
I will continue to keep my property clear and I hope that the rest of Taos County residents and property owners will do the same!
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