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Dust-Up Over Gravel Rules

August 17, 2016, 12:00 am

The county’s sand and gravel extraction codes fail to protect the viewscapes and quality of life along the Turquoise Trail, say two long-time residents of Cerrillos. The ordinance, they argue, should limit the scope and duration of mining. They also want mining farther removed from roads and residences. With Santa Fe County’s Sustainable Land Development Code under six-month review, now’s the time for those questions.

While the regulations allow flexibility, they argue the default should fall in favor of the residents.

“It’s backward that the burden is on the citizens,” says Ross Lockridge. “It seems that companies, if they think they can not be a nuisance, they should be able to show that. The burden should be on them.”

The 44 years they’ve lived in Cerrillos has been long enough to describes the mines in three words: dust, diesel and decibels, says resident Ann Murray.

“We need gravel, but it needs to be well-sited,” Murray says. “It’s nothing to put right next to a house or a school or a park.”

She learned as much in the mid-’90s, when a gravel sifting operation expanded near Cerrillos.

The land development code allows small operations of less than 10 acres within 200 feet of property lines. Lockridge and Murray suggest something under 5 acres and 1,000-foot setbacks would be more appropriate, as would a two-year limit.

The county is in the midst of hosting public meetings on its land use code, with the next at 6 pm on Aug. 24 at the Rancho Viejo Fire Station (37 Rancho Viejo Blvd.) and at 6 pm on Aug. 30 at the Edgewood Fire Station (1 Municipal Way, Edgewood).


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