Sandoval Signpost


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  The Gauntlet

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letters, opinions, editorials

Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association update

—Christopher Daul

The Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association (ES-CA) had its monthly meeting on February 17 to discuss various issues affecting Placitas.

The I-25/Rt. 165/Rt. 550 interchange continues to raise concerns. ES-CA met with NM DOT officials to discuss the deleted acceleration lane that was to go from northbound I-25 to eastbound Rt. 165. NM DOT officials stated that the access would be sufficient, once all of the barrels and poles were removed. However, ES-CA continues to receive comments that the interchange is unsafe, with difficult sight lines. ES-CA is requesting another meeting with NM DOT and will be requesting assistance from our elected State and County officials. It seems clear that some sort of acceleration lane is needed and ES-CA will be fighting for this. We would request that residents go to the ES-CA Forum ( and register their comments on this issue. We will forward comments to NMDOT and our elected officials. This is a very important safety issue for our community, and we need all residents to be involved in order for a reasonable solution to be obtained.

On February 13, representatives of ES-CA met with a representative of Fisher Sand and Gravel to discuss the future of their site on the I-25 frontage road, south of Hwy 165. The site had been approved in 2010 for Terrain Management in preparation of developing the property for light industrial, warehousing and/or commercial use. ES-CA did not oppose the proposed permitted uses on the site and supported the Placitas Area Plan that allowed these uses adjoining I-25. Yet, the site was instead mined for gravel, and an attempt was made to place an asphalt processing plant there. ES-CA successfully fought the asphalt plant and has been monitoring the reclamation plan. Fisher representatives stated that they will not re-start any mining on site, nor will they attempt any other heavy industrial use. At the February 13 meeting, Fisher agreed that the site must be reclaimed, but they have requested yet another extension of time from Sandoval County in which to complete the reclamation. The permitted Terrain Management of the site, that included reclamation, was to be completed December of 2012. ES-CA will be meeting with Sandoval County officials to discuss Fisher completing their restoration of the site. ES-CA will also continue to monitor the use of the site.

ES-CA and representatives from Anasazi Trails are meeting with Phil Rios, the Sandoval County manager, to discuss enforcement of Lafarge, Fisher, and various other ongoing zoning violations in the Placitas Area. Zoning is important to protecting property ownership, safety, health, and general welfare. Despite the County having issued a Notice of Violations to Lafarge, there is as yet no visible County enforcement action. Residents nearby Lafarge have watched in horror as the mine has grown past its approved limits. ES-CA believes that the County must be vigilant and aggressive in enforcing zoning ordinances throughout Sandoval County.

ES-CA will continue to post updates to these issues and others in the ES-CA Forum located at All residents are encouraged to check the forum for updates and to post comments about these and other issues that are affecting Placitas communities. Placitans must continue to be vigilant in following the actions of the County, State, and other entities. We encourage you to help where you can.

re: break-in alert!

This morning [February 11, 2014], while hiking the strip mine trail, I was parked in the main parking lot in front of the trailhead along with another vehicle. Both our vehicles had rocks thrown through the windows of our vehicles, and they stole whatever they could inside. Folks need to be careful with bringing their purses and such to these hiking areas and leaving them in the vehicles

—Angie, Placitas 

re: open letter to horse task force participating agencies

Let the Task Force do the job the County has charged it to do, and let all the Placitas citizens weigh in on the fate of the Placitas horses without constant threats of legal action and illegal roundups.

More than twenty people have been tapped to serve on the New Mexico First Placitas Wild Horse Task Force hired by the Sandoval County Government. Many are your neighbors; some are serving for state, county, and pueblo governments. They have spent countless hours looking at the situation from various aspects and will have options to present to the community in the near future. 

It’s clear to me from discussion with the Attorney General’s Office that neither the Livestock Board nor the Coronado Soil and Water District have any real jurisdiction over the Placitas horses. Sandoval County is sponsoring the Task Force to garner some inter departmental government and local agency cooperation to make recommendations. The Task Force participants need to do that job without the constant one-sided rhetoric in the Signpost.

Several community-wide surveys, very successful fundraising campaigns and fence-building activities conducted over the past eight years are ample evidence that a great many in the community want some of the Placitas Wild Horses to remain. The Sandoval County Government, in hiring NM First to mediate a task force approach, is the first time any authoritative body has attempted to undertake a community input based solution to manage and control the herds. Let the Task Force finish their work and Placitans voice their wishes. 

—Sandy Johnson

[The letter posted above from Sandy Johnson was originally printed in the Signpost with the Signpost's addition of her title of "President, Las Placitas Association." That title has been removed as she is not speaking on behalf of Las Placitas Association in this letter. We regret the error. —Signpost Staff]

re: Las Huertas Ditch calls for horse management

Unanimous approval was given on a free-roaming horse resolution at the annual meeting of Las Huertas Community Ditch that calls for management by State and County authorities, population reduction, and humane removal as well as opposing residents feeding the horses. The well-attended meeting was held on February 16, 2013, at the Placitas Community Center. Las Huertas Community Ditch, one of three acequias in the Placitas area, is a political subdivision of the State of New Mexico and represents twenty families served by the system. Most are long-time residents that were here before the horses and many are, or were, horse owners.

[The full text of the resolution  can be viewed with this letter on the Signpost website.]

—Jon Couch, President, Las Huertas Community Ditch

re: A horse shelter rescue fund

I recently spent time at the Legislature lobbying on behalf of State Senator Munoz’ SB 238 which would appropriate $500,000 to the Horse Shelter Rescue Fund administered by the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB). This money could help in supporting legitimate Horse Rescue Facilities which house abandoned, unwanted and feral horses. These are facilities that the NMLB depends on when they round up estray horses. I was able to visit with at least 25 State Senators and Representatives regarding the increasing need for State involvement in horse issues in New Mexico. I was well-received by all Legislators and feel that even though SB 238 stands little chance in this short session, the way was prepared for the near future. The State of New Mexico must manage these horses.

My own experience with the NMLB has proven this agency quite cooperative and interested in animal welfare. At the Senate Conservation Committee Hearing on SB 238 the Livestock Board representative spoke on behalf of the Appropriation and gave statistics of estray horses in New Mexico. Several veterinarians and rescue facility owners spoke adamantly for the need for more space in New Mexico. I was assured that the Placitas feral horses were included in eligibility for the Horse Rescue Facilities. Everyone at the hearing was for the Appropriation and the Committee voted unanimously for a Do Pass. 

Here in Placitas we have a severe feral horse problem in possibly the worst drought on record. Our watershed is being destroyed. The Bill and the people behind it are very aware that a good first step in managing these horses is to attempt the support of safe and well-funded facilities. Lacking this, one can only wonder at the eventualities.

The NM Horse Shelter Rescue Fund can be contributed to by designating a portion of your tax returns for that purpose. Any individual may designate any portion of the income tax refund due to the individual to be paid to the NM Horse Shelter Rescue Fund. 

—Mike Neas, Co-Chair Legal/ Government Committee, Free Roaming Horses of Placitas Task Force

re: community

Friends, Placitas has changed over many years. A few years ago, our community had a good opportunity to define ourselves through the Placitas Area Master Plan, which required a little push-back to Sandoval County Commissioners who had a vision for us which didn’t exactly fit our RRA designation. But thanks to all those caring residents who participated in that long process to keep things nice here, we made it through those times. But there’s no sigh of relief at all because nothing stays the same. Today, we are facing loss of community because of the expanding Lafarge Gravel Pit, which was permitted by Sandoval County to never expand ever to where it is today. Sure, many residents see the land scar from their windows and hear the construction noise, including truck beeps and the crusher operation because all of that buffer land is gone now after having been scraped away without permit. This whole Lafarge thing has slipped through the cracks because as a community we haven’t said stop—and we can and should. Written below is a wonderful document “Community,” which defines community and should serve as inspiration to those of us who are losing our sense of it because of Lafarge and lack of support from Sandoval County. It’s up to us all to make a difference by simply writing a letter to our representatives, plus showing up at County Commission meetings, and taking responsibility. The only way to keep Placitas lovely is to get involved. We can do this, and it doesn’t take too much time out of our busy lives to show up at a meeting or two.

—Chris Huber, Trails


Today, we continue to learn about ways in which individuals experience community in their lives and how this affects their quality of life. We began by asking lots of people to describe times that they felt the presence, or absence, of a sense of community. From these stories we identified common themes defining community:

  • Shared vision
  • Shared values
  • Shared purpose
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Recognition
  • Communication
  • Participation
  • Teamwork
  • Incorporation of diversity

Having community in a neighborhood doesn’t necessarily mean having all of these elements functioning at one place and one time. But the fact that these elements are simple to grasp and rather familiar makes community easy to get hold of. The work of community, however, is in the building.

—John W. Gardner

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