But their rejoicing may have been premature. The Carlsbad City Council this past week tabled a proposal to repeal its existing extra-territorial ordinance and wants the Eddy County Commission to discuss the implementation of an autonomous extra-territorial authority.
The authority would consist of two members appointed by the mayor of Carlsbad and approved by the city council, and two members appointed by the Eddy County Commission Chairman and approved by the commission.
A fifth member of the authority would be jointly appointed by the commission and council.
At a prior meeting of the council, City Administrator Jon Tully explained to new council members that history suggests that extra-territorial zoning would probably be rejected by the Eddy County Commission.
In 2003 and 2007, the city and the Carlsbad Department of Development approached the sitting commission to form the authority under the state's Enabling Act. But the county commissioner followed the wishes of their constituents who told them loud and clear they do not want any form of zoning. But newly elected City Councilman Jason Shirley says he feels that the city should give the new commission, which was seated this month, the opportunity to give its position on the ordinance.
Now, the city and county will sit down together to determine if they have common ground and set up a two-mile extra-territorial zone from the city limits into the county.
Eddy County Commission Chairman Jack Volpato said that the framework he has seen for the formation of the authority is "workable." But the "devil is in the details," he said.
Volpato said he personally believes that, as the city and the county continue to grow, there needs to be orderly growth and to do that, there needs to be some oversight.
He said on the upside, having an autonomous zoning authority would give developers and businesses one-stop shopping in obtaining permits and the correct paperwork. Grievances and concerns would also be addressed by the authority.
Volpato said there are areas in the city and county that have been impacted by growth that could not have been foreseen years ago.
"Callaway Drive in La Huerta is a good example," Volpato said. "That road was never meant to be a main thoroughfare. Today, you have more houses built along Callaway and it has impacted that area. When you have orderly growth and plan ahead for future roads and utilities, it doesn't have the impact of trying to provide those later on." Volpato, who lives outside the city limits, said neither the county nor city want zoning to have a negative impact on the lifestyle of residents who choose to live outside the city limits.
"We can't ignore it (growth) and stick our heads in the sand," he said. "We have to look to the future."
The city and county will start meeting to discuss the issue and a decision whether or not to proceed with extra-territorial zoning will probably be made late next month.
If both local governments were to agree to form the authority and formally establish the extra-territorial zone, the public would have the opportunity to voice its thoughts on the proposal.