Joint Land Use Study approved

Sharna Johnson

Tuesday, Curry County Commissioners approved a Joint Land Use Study aimed at identifying potential issues between Cannon Air Force Base’s new mission and surrounding communities.

Study project manager Rudy Bauer told commissioners his group had worked closely with regional committees and involved the public heavily in the project, which took less than a year to complete.

The resulting plan is a study of not just Cannon, but local economy, growth potential and expected industry growth in renewable energy and other areas Bauer said.

In response to the concerns of local residents, Bauer also said the study’s goals were expanded to include “protection of private property rights.”

Commissioner Frank Blackburn said he couldn’t vote in support because all the residents he has spoken to have been opposed to it for fear it will cause loss of property rights and economic development opportunities.

“I have lived around that base all my life, within a mile of it. We’ve been pulled this way and that way,” Blackburn said.

“I’m concerned about the opposition to this plan. The people in the county (don’t want it) … How can I vote for it if everybody’s against it?”

Blackburn said he also felt like there are strings attached and when the region tries to pursue future opportunities, the Office of Economic Adjustment and federal government would expect communities to follow the recommendations of the plan.

“It’s the old crack the door theory (it starts out little bit by little bit) … The people in this area don’t support this,” Blackburn said. “The best security this base can have … is good neighbors.”

The plan gives suggests things communities can do to support and enhance the presence of Cannon in the area. Bauer stressed those are just recommendations.

“This plan doesn’t do anything, all it does is give you a toolbox,” Bauer said, explaining that all the language residents objected to was removed from the final plan.

And he said, “There’s no hammer here that allows the OEA to tell you what to do.”

The plan was approved by commissioners on a 4-1 vote with Blackburn dissenting.

Other commissioners voiced support of the JLUS, referring to it as a valuable eye-opening tool.

Commission Chairman Caleb Chandler said he thinks the plan is actually a step toward being good neighbors.

“The theme of this plan is talk often, talk early,” he said. “Now we have an organized, structured plan to proceed with.”

The plan was also approved unanimously Tuesday by the Roosevelt County Commission.

In other business, commissioners:

• Heard a request from Sheriff Matt Murray and Village of Grady Mayor Wesley Shafer to enter into a joint powers agreement for law enforcement services in Grady.

Murray said for 12 years, the sheriff has had an agreement to provide police service to Grady in exchange for money from a law enforcement grant the village obtains. The village uses the $20,000 grant each year to buy law enforcement equipment for the village and the remainder pays for training for sheriff’s deputies.

County Attorney Steve Doerr said he does not believe the sheriff has legal authority to enter into a joint powers agreement with the village and that it should instead be the county. He recommended the commission wait to give their approval until he can research the issue.

Commissioners said they would address the issue in a special meeting later this month.

• Heard from resident Chuck Roberts, who asked the county to post a speed limit sign near his home on Curry Road H north of Clovis. Roberts said the road isn’t marked and vehicles drive by his home at high speeds, causing him concern for the safety of his neighbor’s children and other residents.

Commissioners instructed the county manager to look into the issue of placing speed limit signs in Roberts and other residential areas.

• Approved a request from Fairgrounds and Events Center Manager Kevin Jolley to grade and surface the carnival area of the fairgrounds. Jolley said the carnival vendor that worked with the fair last year offered to give a $50,000 donation to the fairgrounds to fix drainage issues and surface the carnival area in exchange for a seven-year contract and fair sponsorship.

Flooding from rains during the fair make the area impassable due to mud and standing water, Jolley said, and creates accessibility issues for fair visitors with disabilities.

Jolley said with the commission’s approval, work would begin Tuesday.

• Heard a report from jail Administrator Keith Norwood, who said he continues to send inmates to other facilities when they refuse to comply with the rules at the detention center. He said he has also been receiving support from the courts and prosecutors, who are signing sentencing reports faster, allowing inmates to be sent to state prisons more quickly.

County Attorney Stephen Doerr also said Norwood would be meeting with judges about the possibility of scheduling a weekly time slot for them to review inmate status and process inmates who are eligible for release or have other options beside being housed at the jail.

• County Manager Lance Pyle said he will be announcing public notice later this week regarding an 8:30 a.m. Saturday meeting of the courthouse and jail citizens’ committees, which will be open to the public.