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An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988

Bernalillo Farmers’ Market seeks vendors, craftspeople

—Nancy Kellum-Rose

The Bernalillo Farmers’ Market is a vendor-managed and operated Market. The board, chaired by Cindy King, president, and Bonnie Hill, market manager, is made up of growers and crafts people from Placitas, Corrales, Rio Rancho, and Bernalillo. We are seeking venders to provide our communities with the freshest and most flavorful fruits and vegetable, herbs, baked goods, eggs, and artistic crafts. Vendors are charged five dollars per day or thirty dollars for the season. The Market will be open Fridays June 17 through October 28 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., at the Pavillon at Rotary Park, off Don Tomas in Bernalillo. Rotary Park is an accessible and family friendly place to buy fabulous food and visit with your neighbors. We will be accepting checks from WIC, SNAP, and other supplemental food programs. For more information, contact Bonnie Hill at 505-228-5801.

County remains open to oil-well applications

—Bill Diven

While Sandoval County staff works on a land-use ordinance for oil-and-gas drilling, a moratorium on new applications won’t be coming up for a vote. Commissioners Nora Scherzinger of Corrales and James Dominguez of Bernalillo both requested the moratorium until the ordinance is approved. Under commission policy, however, it takes three of five commissioners or approval from the chairman to add one of their own items to an agenda for action.

“I think a moratorium would keep us safe in the interim,” Dominguez said. Supporters of the moratorium have said it could be tailored to the Rio Rancho-Bernalillo-Placitas area and not affect extensive drilling and production in the northwest part of the county.

With only Scherzinger and Dominguez supporting the idea during a March 28 commission workshop, the moratorium is off the table for now. The ordinance comes after an Oklahoma company requested zoning approval for a well on private land about four miles west of Rio Rancho.

SandRidge Exploration and Development, citing low prices for oil and gas and “regulatory hurdles” in the county, withdrew its application in February after two public hearings and extensive public opposition.

“In my 17 years here, this was the first application we’ve received,” County Planning Director Michael Springfield said during the meeting.

It was also the first application since September 2014 when subsidiaries of AMREP Corporation, Rio Rancho’s founding developer, leased 55,000 acres of platted land to two New Mexico energy companies. The companies brought in SandRidge, which planned a 10,500-foot exploratory well to be followed by production if the well proved successful.

While SandRidge had a state permit for the well, it needed special-use zoning from the county for the two-acre site.

Groups like the Placitas-based Eastern Sandoval Citizens Association have urged not only a moratorium on applications but also a ban on drilling near and within the Albuquerque Basin. The basin is the groundwater source underlying Rio Rancho, much of Albuquerque, and a large section of Placitas.

The county received more than two thousand pages of comments on the SandRidge proposal, County Manager Phil Rios said. Most of the public comment was on protecting the groundwater, Springfield added.

Springfield said the county planning staff is working on a draft ordinance that would create a two-tiered system similar to San Juan County. That would treat an exploratory well as a temporary use that could be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission while a production well would require special-use zoning and approval from the County Commission. Both processes would involve public hearings, he said.

The county is also working out an agreement with New Mexico Tech—the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro—to act as a consultant on future drilling applications. During the SandRidge process, Springfield said the county lacked the in-house expertise to evaluate aspects of the application not regulated by the state agencies to which it defers.

Springfield said experts at New Mexico Tech already are looking over the draft ordinance that will first be presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission. When that will happen is not yet known.

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