Like most of his commentary, Paul J. Gessing's recent contribution titled The Case Against Zoning in San Juan County, is without the other's voice. He has not heard the outcry for help that we as a local government have heard.
San Juan County, New Mexico is a wonderful place to visit, live and call home. As a native of the area who has spent 33 of 48 years here, I have seen the exponential growth it has undertaken. With that growth has come many challenges. Such as stress on infrastructure and limited developable space for expansion as a result of minimal private land in the county (6 percent). As a result of this, it creates a dynamic like no other. It positions business up against homeowners or vice versa and without any kind of protections put in place for both the business and the residence, it could make for a very bad relationship. All over this country, we have seen residential areas penetrated by industrial warehouses to big box stores and even what most deem as societal inappropriate types of business. We have also seen developers place homes next to businesses and before long the business, which was there first, is now regulated.
I am proud to live here and serve the citizens of San Juan County. Without hesitation I can also say that as a local government for the people, we are voice driven. Local government officials have expended an exponential number of hours on topics such as this and have had more than 68 public meetings and hearings to learn what citizens are concerned about and what they want. The effort that San Juan County took to educate and be educated on this issue has been described by some professionals as unprecedented. Now it may not be what everyone wants, but the majority has spoken. What Mr. Gessing is left guessing, since he does not reside here, is that they want a cleaner and safer county. That people and even businesses want a balance that encompasses accountability and rights to ensure a great quality of life. Without question, I don't want a pig farm next to my home in a subdivision nor would I want to have a strip club set up shop 100 feet from my front door; just as a business owner that owns a trucking company who does not want a home built next door only to see the resident complain about noise when starting his trucks up to idle and warm at 5 a.m. All this said let me tell you about a balance. That balance is in this ordinance. The ordinance that Paul Gessing did not read. It is one where 70 percent of the land use will not change and filled with opportunity to be heard. Where current status is grandfathered but where noise and disruption are limited. Many even say it is not enough but there must be that balance.
Some people will say "it's just more government regulation", but I say look at the intent. We are progressively moving forward to protect what we work hard for and to ensure improved and more stable property values that will no longer continue to suffer.
As I close, every day I work under a microscope of criticism and disdain that people have for government, most of which is a result of the actions of the state and federal levels that are now typed onto the local level. However, I am eager to show those critics that we are responsive, we listen, and have the forthright intent in building a stronger community where transparency is an everyday effort.
CEO of San Juan County