Village of Bosque Farms residents will be facing either an increase in utility bills or a mill levy tax in order to pay $150,000 in a land dispute case involving Emil Desmet.
“The Desmets believe they were entitled to interest and court costs,” Village Attorney David Chavez told the council Thursday night.
However, after two hearings on July 25 and 26 before Judge William Sanchez, the court awarded the Desmets $116,050, which did not include interest and court costs. In an out-of-court agreement, the Desmets settled for $150,000, regarding a dispute over devaluation of their property when the village built a wastewater treatment plant nearby on McNew Road.
According to Chavez, the Desmets were originally seeking more than $400,000 in damages, and, with interest, that would have amounted to approximately $800,000.
Mayor Roger Baldwin was not present for Thursday’s meeting because a vote on multiple zoning for his cabinet business on Bosque Farms Boulevard was to be made. Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Ake presided over the meeting in Baldwin’s absence, as the councilors unanimously voted in favor of granting a multiple-zoning permit for Baldwin’s business.
Baldwin’s lawyer, Lar Thomas, thanked the councilors for approving the zoning. However, during the non-agenda discussion at the end of the meeting, Thomas took off his lawyer’s hat and blasted the councilors as a citizen. He said he was angry about having to pay money as a Bosque Farms resident for the Desmet case.
“I am very much against paying for someone else’s wrongs,” Thomas said. “This is not a mistake we made but a mistake that the former administration made.”
“The Desmets had a legal right to make these claims and we went through the process,” Chavez responded. “It’s not a mistake made by any administration. It was a legal right of the Desmets.”
“The village broke a promise in this case,” Thomas countered.
“The court did not find that there were any promises that were broken,” Chavez responded. “The decision was based on a diminution in property value.”
Thomas then proceeded to tell the councilors that they need to treat people fairly, and, if they don’t, he will “put the heat on them.”
“If you can’t stand the heat, then you can get out,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to stand by and watch a government take money out of my pockets.”
Councilor Ken Hays made the initial remarks in defense of the council, first in regards to zoning ordinances and then on the Desmet case.
“We had a survey that residents wanted to keep the community agricultural within the boundaries,” Hays said about zoning laws, which regulate business signs and other development.
“I’ve been here a lot longer than you,” Hays told Thomas. “For you to tell us we’re screwing up, I don’t appreciate that.”
In earlier remarks, Thomas criticized the council for spending $950 in consulting fees regarding the zoning of Baldwin’s business.
“Who authorized the second opinion in this case?” Thomas asked the council, inquiring about where the firms were located.
Chavez responded that two firms were from Valencia County and two were from Albuquerque. Bids ranged from around $700 to more than $1,000 for consulting fees.
“I don’t understand when you talk about a method we took, about your client, so we don’t get sued for an exorbitant amount,” Councilor David Linthicum responded to Thomas’ remarks, referring to the consultant fees.
“We tabled this for two weeks, so we would do the prudent thing and not get sued,” Linthicum said. “We allowed your client (Baldwin) to continue to do business.
“We are going to be here,” Linthicum told Thomas. “We are not going away. I object to your misrepresentations of what we do.”
How the village will pay $150,000 for the Desmet case has yet to be determined by the council.
In other non-agenda discussion, Jeff Crum, an emergency medical technician for the Bosque Farms Fire Department, brought up the subject of response time for Living Cross Ambulance.
“We’re having an average response time of 38 minutes here in the village,” Crum said.
He asked the council if it has a copy of the agreement with Living Cross.
“We’ve asked for that agreement, and we’ve yet to see it,” Linthicum responded.
Crum said he thinks that Living Cross is supposed to have one ambulance available for the village at all times.
The issue of Living Cross Ambulance service will be on the agenda for the next village meeting.
In other village business:
- Judge David Patterson presented Bosque Farms Police Chief Louis Burkhard with a check for $600 from the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Los Lunas, to be used for department expenses.
- The council approved the hiring of three full-time police officers, to bring the staff to nine full-time officers, including Burkhard. Two of the new officers are Toby Lafave, of the New Mexico State Police, and Frank Sackman, of the Mountainair Police Department. The third officer’s name was withheld until he gives notice to his present employer.
- Sopa’s Restaurant’s request for a liquor license to serve beer and wine at their boulevard establishment was approved.
- Renewal of an agreement for use of the recreation complex by the American Youth Soccer Organization was approved.
- Club soccer use of the recreation complex was approved.
- An ambulance dispatch agreement for 2002-03 with Pueblo of Isleta was approved.
- An animal impoundment agreement for 2002-03 with Valencia County was approved.
- A prisoner housing agreement for 2002-03 with Valencia County was approved.