Survey maps show more footage than the actual space that exists in the township of Nogal, which creates problems and different outcomes, depending on the direction from which surveyors enter the settlement.
Lincoln County commissioners at their meeting last month acknowledged an overlap in an 80-foot right of way. Without conveying land to anyone, they approved an on-ground, right of way measurement of 56 feet on Slane Avenue marked by a stonewall. Nogal hugs New Mexico State Highway 37 as it heads west toward Carrizozo.
The action was tied to another request to vacate about one-tenth of an acre as a portion of right of way on Dry Gulch Lane submitted by Denys and Caroline McCoy. County Road Review Committee member Robert Barber told commissioners the county does not maintain the road, no utilities are involved and the committee recommended approval.
County Attorney Alan Morel told commissioners two separate issues are involved. The first is a vacation of the right of way on Dry Gulch Lane, which is a legal process giving up the county's right to the property. The applicant pays for the land and receives a deed.
"The other issue is a shortage issue," he said. "That wall and fence technically are within an 80-foot right of way (on Slane Avenue), but they are saying the 80 feet doesn't exist and has been ignored in the past with people dealing with what is on the ground. I don't think we can give a deed to the area that is short.
The remaining right of way then could be called nonconforming, Commissioner Mark Doth suggested while offering a motion for approval.
County Planner Curt Temple concurred with Morel that approval would amount to an agreement for the boundary on the north side of the road. "The rights of ways are 80 feet wide, but the townsite doesn't have the right dimensions on the plat. There is overlap that we have dealt with for years. Benchmark (Engineering) brought in a plat agreed upon to use the rock wall as a boundary. This brings the right of way down to 58 feet there. You've taken some from the north and some from the south on a street only one person uses to get to a house. It (really is) a private driveway and we don't maintain it. It's not really a vacation, it's a definition of a right of way, taking into account the overlap of the dimensions. Basically, there just are not enough feet for the townsite. This clears up on the one right of way based on occupation."
Clearing up issues
As Eric Collins of D. T. Collins & Associates, wrote commissioners that various surveyors over the years, "went strictly by the record distances using the stone townsite corners. They protracted the location of what they were surveying to lay out the lots within the block ignoring the occupation of houses and fences that were constructed decades before."
The one hesitation was connected to the possibility that the Nogal water users association might need to install water lines in the easement and it will be less than 80 feet, Temple said. But the water association is laying its lines along another route.
"One of reason we're doing this is to clarify the boundaries for the water association," Caroline McCoy said. "They are not running a line on this portion."
In his letter, Collins also mentioned utilities.
"The platted right of way of each road within the Nogal townsite is 80 feet. Many of the roads and alleyways within the Nogal townsite have been vacated over time without a true field survey to show exactly what was vacated," he wrote. "These vacations have caused additional problems, because a majority did not address the existing utilities within these rights of way. Along with this plat, the adjoining land owners are working to grant easements for the existing utilities and future utilities. The approval of the commissioners to vacate part of Dry Gulch Lane, and the approval of the location of the south right of way line of Slane Avenue will not affect the rights of the entities that have existing utilities in the area."
Morel said the official record must be clear that in the request connected to Slane Avenue, the county only is agreeing to the boundaries as shown on the plat and that there is no conveyance of any land to any particular owner.