In the past three years, Eddy County has seen a boom in the oil and gas industry, bringing the county financial gain from the industry's revenue. But there is a downside. The oilfield traffic is causing havoc on county roads and rural residential areas, county leaders say.

Eddy County Commissioner Guy Lutman wants the county to revisit the zoning issue in the county, something previous commissions have looked at, but bowed to public pressure and walked away from.

"I know in this county, 'zoning' is a terrible word," Lutman said. "The impact of the oil and gas industry has been good for the county, but it is having a big impact on our roads. The impact of the oil and gas industry is great for economic development, but it seems there is very little people can do about the oilfield traffic. We need to address it and put in some safeguards for residents."

Lutman said Happy Valley residents on the west side of Carlsbad have issues with a water station set up in their rural community. He said the trucks are coming through the residential areas and there is little turn-around room on the street for the water trucks. In addition, he said drilling rigs are coming in closer to residential areas in other areas of the county, lighting up the sky at night, which impacts residents living within close proximity to the rig.

"We need to engage in a conversation with the city of Carlsbad about extra-territorial zoning," Lutman told fellow commissioners. "What impact is this problem having on areas in the county and the property values? It's a problem that is not going to go away.


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I think we should get the ETZ issue back on the table. It's a good time. People who were silent back then might be more vocal now because the problem now is in their backyard."

The city of Carlsbad has a 3-mile ETZ zone, but it is looking at possibly abolishing it.

Commission Chairwoman Roxanne Lara said the issue is how to deal with growth without invading private property rights.

"I have time and time again asked the city to allow the county to come to the table to discuss the ETZ," Lara said.

Commissioner Tony Hernandez, who lives in Malaga and has seen a rise in oilfield traffic in Loving and Malaga, asked if the county can implement limited zoning areas. He said there are about six commercial companies in his district and he welcomes the economic development they bring to the county and his district.

"I have had no complaints from my area," he said.

County Attorney Cass Tabor said, "The county can't spot zone. The county needs to have a master plan. Several years ago, the city wanted a joint ETZ plan, but there was strong opposition from county residents."

Commissioner Jack Volpato said, should the current and future commission decide to pursue the ETZ issue, it should be done with a lot of input from all the stakeholders, such as the oil and gas industry, the farming and ranching communities and others that would be impacted by zoning.

"Residents should not have to worry about encroachment on their property," Volpato said. "We need to get everyone together. But if we go this route, it will take time if it is to be done right."

Lutman also took issue with the fact that the commission is asked to approve subdivision plats with covenants. However, after the commission approves the plat, the developers often change the covenants and they are often loose and not enforced, he said.

"It is not the county's job to enforce the covenants," Tabor said.

Lutman replied, saying, "So why do they put the covenant in the subdivision plat for us to approve if the covenant doesn't mean a thing?"

After further discussion, the commission took no action. In November, three new commissioners will be voted in. Current commissioners Lewis Derrick and Lutman are not eligible to seek a third four-year term due to term limits. Lara chose not to seek a second term.