County may consider abandoned industrial site ordinance
Potential measure would apply only to future sites
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."
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.
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.