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County may consider abandoned industrial site ordinance

Potential measure would apply only to future sites

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The abandoned Thriftway Refinery is located on County Road 5500 south of Bloomfield. County officials are considering adopting a measure that would force owners of such sites to clean them up after they are closed.

 

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Commission may consider an ordinance requiring business owners to clean up industrial properties after they close up shop.

When reached by phone Thursday, County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said the ordinance is something the county should have considered years ago.

Throughout the county, there are empty industrial sites. Carpenter highlighted the old Thriftway Refinery near Bloomfield as one example.

Rusted storage tanks and dilapidated buildings behind locked gates and chain-link fences are all that remains of the refinery on County Road 5500. The refinery has been vacant since the 1990s.

"It's an eyesore," Carpenter said. "It's a hazard."

The abandoned Thriftway Refinery on County Road 5500 south of Bloomfield is described by one county official as an eyesore.

 

Since it closed, the refinery has been the target of multiple cases of vandalism. Graffiti can be seen on the walls of buildings. When Carpenter suggested the ordinance to the County Commission, Chairman Jack Fortner expressed surprise that there has not been more looting of metal at the abandoned facility.

"It's very frustrating to just see these sites sit," Carpenter said.

While an ordinance would not address already closed industrial sites like the Thriftway refinery, it could prevent future instances of abandoned property.

"An industry at any point in time can leave and leave stuff like this that sits and sits and sits," he said.

Carpenter said abandoned industrial sites can cause problems such as contamination of surrounding properties due to erosion.

Abandoned industrial sites such as the Thriftway Refinery on County Road 5500 south of Bloomfield often become targets for vandals.

 

During a meeting this week, County Attorney Doug Echols suggested a $300-a-day penalty for future abandoned industrial sites.

While the county is still looking at the possibility of implementing the ordinance, Carpenter said he does not expect a lot of backlash from residents. However, he said business owners could object.

Carpenter said if the county chooses to pursue the ordinance, there will be a listening board to hear concerns from local business owners.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.