County cleanup measure returns

By Robin Fornoff
CMI PROJECTS EDITOR
rfornoff@cnjonline.com

Lame duck Curry County Commissioner Robert Sandoval succeeded Tuesday in resurrecting a once-dead and controversial health and safety nuisance ordinance.

Sandoval managed just enough support to take yet another look at enacting laws opponents say smack of zoning, moving the issue forward on a 3-1-1 vote.

Chairman Frank Blackburn voted against the measure and Commissioner Tim Ashley abstained.

Backed by Commissioners Wendell Bostwick and Ben McDaniel, Sandoval’s suggestion to revive and revise a proposed ordinance commissioners buried in 2010 will get a second look.

“I want Clovis and Curry County to grow,” Sandoval said, saying he believes commissioners have been bullied in the past by a vocal minority against the wishes of a silent majority.

“Every time we try something like this, we get the same five to eight people coming here to complain,” said Sandoval. “At some point somebody has to step up. There’s such a thing as saying it’s the right thing to do.”

Commissioners spent two years studying a health and safety ordinance before burying it as a low priority four years ago. Critics said the proposal included property restrictions aimed at residents who chose to live outside of Clovis and its restrictive zoning laws.

Blackburn was adamant that he opposed even taking another look at the ordinance.

“My first problem,” said Blackburn, a farmer and rancher, “is there is no support for it from the rural areas. I just don’t see the need.”

Bostwick, also a farmer and rancher, argued that a revised state Right to Farm Act countered many of Blackburn’s concerns about restricting land use.

“I don’t think anyone has a right to inflict health or safety dangers on their neighbors,” said Bostwick.

County Clerk Rose Riley, a longtime beautification advocate, said commissioners need only drive to west Brady Street to see the problem. Riley said she received complaints four years ago about clutter at a home on west Brady in county jurisdiction.

“Back then, we were told the woman was getting ready for a yard sale,” said Riley. “Well, I can tell you it’s been years and there hasn’t been a yard sale yet. It’s still out there.”

Riley said the home presented a fire danger.

Not mentioned was the James Priest property off U.S. 70 south of Clovis, a target when commissioners made a first run at a health and safety ordinance. Priest sat silently in the audience during the commission debate.

County Attorney Steve Doerr cautioned commissioners that nuisance ordinances without enacting zoning would be difficult to enforce.

“I’m not recommending zoning,” said Doerr, who noted earlier that most nuisance ordinances without zoning have been determined by courts to be illegal.