The Aquifer when fracked

The Aquifer when fracked

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Illegal attempt to remove P&Z Commissioner by county Admin and planning

Urgent:  Illegal Attempt to Remove Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commissioner, Jo Anne Roake (Corrales).

Appointment of Joanne Roake to P and Z.  One of Sandoval County Commissioner Nora Scherzinger’slast acts was to appoint Jo Anne Roake to the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission.   On October 6, 2016, Jo Anne was unanimously accepted by the commission to replace Corrales resident Sam Thompson, who had to resign for personal reasons.  Jo Anne is extremely well-qualified.  A retired land use attorney, she had served as chair for the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission.  Her two-year term will end October, 20, 2018.  (This is confirmed in the video of the October 6, 2016 meeting.)

Nora, as you know, lost her seat to Jay Block from Rio Rancho. (The district, of course, includes Corrales.)  Commissioner Block now joins two other Republicans to form a majority on the Sandoval County Commission. (There are a total of five commissioners.)

What happened.  Several days ago, Jo Anne received a call from Mike Springfield, Director of Planning and Zoning, informing her that she no longer would be serving as commissioner on Sandoval’s Planning and Zoning Commission.  Commissioner Block wanted to appoint his own candidate to fill that seat.   Mike told her that the Commission was empowered to remove a planning and zoning commissioner should they so desire.

Illegal action.  This attempt to push Jo Anne off of the Planning and Zoning Commission is in violation of Sandoval County’s Ordinance” Describing the Powers, Duties and Organization of the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission. “ The ordinance makes it very clear why this is an illegal action.  

Section 2B of the Ordinance Describing the Powers, Duties and Organization of the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission (The Ordinance was passed and approved January 21,2010.)

“An incumbent member shall serve the full term unless he/she resigns or is removed for cause under the terms of this Ordinance.”

“Members may be removed for cause stated in writing, including but not limited to, frequent unexcused absences.  Members shall be removed by a majority vote of the Board of County Commissioners followed by a public hearing. ”

The consequences:  Why would newly-elected Commissioner Block and presumably the soon to be chair, Commissioner Chapman, want to have Jo Anne removed?   
Oil and gas drilling in Sandoval County.  The Planning and Zoning Commission has been asked by the Commission to develop county oil and gas ordinanceswhich were grossly inadequate. Is the push to remove Roake an attempt to make sure that Planning and Zoning commissioners are more sympathetic to the oil and gas industry?   Clearly the planning and zoning commission played a key role in the decision to deny SandRidge Energy the right to drill for oil near Rio Rancho. (Public outrage also was a critical factor.)

No representation from Corrales. By removing Jo Anne, Corrales no longer would have representation on the Planning and Zoning Commission.  And, of course, Corrales does not have a presence on the newly elected county commission.    Rio Rancho, on the other hand, is currently well represented on both bodies.  Three out of the five commissioners come from Rio Rancho and the zoning ordinance automatically provides Rio Rancho with two planning and zoning commissioners out of the seven slots.  

Corrales has had a representative on the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission for years.  Its concerns, like those of Placitas, Algodones, Cuba, and other areas of our diverse county need to be taken into consideration.  But Commissioner Block,clearly wanted to ensure that his person, from Rio Rancho, would replace the legitimately appointed Roake.  Rio Rancho would then have three commissioners on planning and zoning.

The quasi-judicial responsibilities of planning and zoning commissions.  Removal of a P and Z Commissioner as if they were an "at will" employee is a very, very dangerous move.  Planning and Zoning Commissions have quasi-judicial responsibilities.  They must perform as if they were judges.    If commissioners could be removed "at will," this could mean that the county commission would be able to force the resignation of a P and Z commissioner whose decisions they do not like.  That execution of power is contrary to our system of government that requires an independent judiciary.

We certainly deserve to know why Jo Anne was misinformed that she was no longer required to serve on the P and Z Commission.

Just as we need to be extremely diligent about what is what is going on nationally and at the state legislative level, we also need to pay very careful attention to what our locally elected bodies are up to.

Make Your voices heard.
Your presence at these meetings really counts.

Sandoval County Commission meeting scheduled for Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 6:30 PM.  Unfortunately public comment is toward the end of the meeting and you need to put your name on a sign-up sheet before the meeting begins.  The commission meets in the county complex offices located near 528 on Idalia.  There will likely be a 3-minute limit for each public comment.

Residents of Corrales should attend the Corrales Village Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 10, 2016, at 6 PM. 

Some ideas /questions to state at the county commission meeting.  Below are some ideas but make it personal – what concerns you about the attempt to remove Jo Anne from Planning and Zoning.

•Who is responsible for this effort to remove a legitimately appointed planning and zoning commission?  
•Was Mike Springfield, who has served as Director of Planning and Zoning for years, aware that what he told Jo Anne Roake was in violation of the ordinance that governs the powers and duties of the planning and zoning commission?  
•Was the Director of Planning and Zoning totally ignorant of the ordinance requirements?  This does not give the public a sense of trust in this department.
•This is not only an action in violation of the law but aterrible way to treat a volunteer, willing to engage in the hard work required of a planning and zoning commissioner.  Should there not be an official apology to JoAnne?
•Since commissioners are like judges, isn’t this like putting pressure on a judge?
•Imagine telling a judge that whoever appointed him or her can dismiss him at will.
•Why shouldn’t Corrales continue to have representation on the planning and zoning commission? Rio Rancho has two representatives.  Why doesn’t Commissioner Block want to have Corrales on the P and Z?
•Our county is very geographically diverse.  The Planning and Zoning Commission is designed to reflect that diversity and not be over-represented by one area.
Comments before the Corrales Village Council
The background information and the ideas above should guide you as to what is important for our village council to know.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Chairman, Commissioners –
    My name is Bob Wessely, 56 Paseo de San Antonio, Placitas, New Mexico
    I would like to refer you to Chapter 40 of Sandoval County Ordinances as posted on the county website. Chapter 40 contains ordinance number 10-1-21.9F, which was passed at your meeting on January 21, 2010. This is the ordinance establishing the Planning and Zoning Commission.
    Section 40-20-(b)-(2) says “… The members shall serve staggered terms of two years...”
    Section 40-20-(b)-(3) says “An incumbent member shall serve the full term unless he resigns or is removed for cause under the terms of this article. …”
    Section 40-20-(b)-(4) says “Members may be removed for cause stated in writing, including, but not limited to, frequent unexcused absences. Members shall be removed by a majority vote of the board of county commissioners following a public hearing.”
    Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I am afraid I must report to you an action by staff that is inconsistent with the requirements of your ordinance.
    At your meeting on October 6, 2016, Consent Agenda Item 6.D was “Approval to Appoint Joanne Roake (District 2) to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a Two Year Term.” According to the video transcription, the entire consent agenda was unanimously approved.
    My understanding is that on January 4, 2017, Mr. Springfield, by telephone, informed Planning and Zoning Commissioner Roake that she had been removed from the Planning and Zoning Commission.
    Contrary to the requirements of your ordinance, there was no indication of a written statement of cause, nor was there any indication of a public hearing having taken place, nor was there any indication of a majority vote of county commissioners.
    Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, I urge you to investigate the origins of this apparent violation of the county ordinance. And as a result of the investigation, I would further urge you to take appropriate remedial and/or punitive action.
    Thank you