AZTEC — San Juan County officials said they will ask commissioners to delay voting on a land use code so adjustments can be made based on public comments.
The San Juan County Commission is scheduled to vote on a land use code at Tuesday's meeting. The code would be the first zoning laws created for unincorporated parts of San Juan County, which are areas outside of the Navajo Nation and Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield.
County Operations Officer Mike Stark said county residents have asked for changes to the way some areas are classified on the zoning maps, which are available on the county's website and at the county government complex in Aztec.
Stark said county staff will ask commissioners at Tuesday's meeting to table their vote for a month to address concerns.
"This allows us more time to take additional feedback," Stark said. "We truly value the public feedback."
In the last two months, the county received 23 written comments about the land use code. Three people said they supported the code, eight letters were against it and 12 letters recommended an area be reclassified or gave some other type of feedback.
Of the eight letters against the code, three were not signed.
Stark said there was an even mix of residents in favor of and against the code at a public meeting about the code on Sept. 11.
Elizabeth Rudd, of Bloomfield, said in her letter that the protections created with a land use code are unnecessary government intervention in people's lives.
"Since 9-11-01 we Americans have allowed our freedoms to be gradually taken in exchange for security," she wrote. "We do not need residential neighborhood protection."
Stark has said one of the main goals of the code is to create security for property owners. He said homeowners in unincorporated areas have been upset when industrial businesses opened next door, and long-standing businesses were frustrated when they became surrounded by homes.
Other residents against the code said they were concerned about the cost of enforcing the new rules and the loss of freedom. Residents also raised concerns about there not being a specific designation for agricultural areas.
Elizabeth Kesterson, who lives near Aztec, said the code could be harmful to business.
For more than 35 years, Kesterson and her husband have operated a trophy and automotive repair business on their property.
"A person should have the right to open up a business in the county," she said in an interview Wednesday. "This gives the county's executives too much power."
Kesterson said the county should let residents of unincorporated San Juan County vote on the code. She said she doesn't think most county residents are in favor of the land use code. She also said most county residents are against the trash and junk ordinances.
Commissioners passed those ordinances in 2010 and 2011, respectively. They place limits on the amount of trash and junked vehicles people can keep on their property.
"The county knows it won't pass," Kesterson said of the land use code. "People don't want to be told what to do with their own land. It should be voted on just like the junk and trash ordinance should have been voted on."Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.