Officials: Zoning rule may be needed

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

A nuisance ordinance would be hard to enforce efficiently without a zoning ordinance county officials said.

Curry County Attorney Stephen Doerr presented a rough draft of a nuisance ordinance Thursday during a Land Use Committee meeting.

Committee chairman and County Commissioner Tim Ashley said nuisance complaints from county residents have come before the committee since its inception about two years ago.

The bulk of the complaints were about the corridors entering Clovis, Ashley said, which is an issue many candidates in the Clovis municipal election have addressed during public forums.

“A lot of people are unhappy with the corridors because they feel it affects our ability to attract businesses to the community,” he said.

The proposed ordinance addresses issues such as overgrown weeds and grass, the storage of broken-down automobiles and accumulation of trash on residential property. The ordinance also makes it illegal for owners to allow weeds to grow and trash to accumulate on their property within 20 feet of a public road.

Farm land would be exempted from some parts of the ordinance, Doerr said.

While the ordinance would have to be enforced countywide, Doerr said he specifically drafted the ordinance to address properties along corridors entering Clovis such as U.S. 60/84, U.S. 70 and New Mexico 209.

And that’s where the problem lies, he said.

“To enforce it is going to create an enforcement nightmare,” Doerr said.

He said it would be unfair to residents who live away from the corridors to be scrutinized in the same way as residents living along the corridors.

The discussion boiled down to the need for zoning to effectively enforce a nuisance ordinance.

“When you look at how difficult it’s going to be to try and make a broad spectrum nuisance ordinance that would apply to the whole county,” Ashley said. “You’ll water it down so much because of all the other areas of the county because you don’t want to encumber folks that don’t need to be encumbered, that I don’t think we’ll wind up with much of a nuisance ordinance.”

He said he will recommend to the County Commission to review possible zoning in the county. Different zones could have different nuisance ordinances, he said.

“I believe to really address the true issue, it’s going to require us to take a look at zoning and a stricter ordinance in the corridor sections,” Ashley said.

Doerr said the sheriff’s office would enforce the ordinance by issuing citations. Proposed penalties included a $500 fine per offense.