An appeal of the Valencia County Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of the industrial site design of a proposed power plant near Rio Communities has been filed.
The Valencia County Commission will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 to consider the request to appeal the planning and zoning commission’s Aug. 13 decision on the Peoples Energy Resources proposal.
Lawrence S. Alba, owner of land in Rio Grande Estates H Unit, east of the proposed site of the 280-megawatt, natural-gas-fired power plant, filed the paperwork on the final day of the 15-day appeal period.
Sylvain Segal of the Segal and Soifer law firm in Albuquerque is representing Alba. According to the documents filed by Segal, the reasons for the appeal are:
- “Heavy industrial district (I-3) zoning does not permit electric power plants as a permissive or conditional use.”
- “The scope of the hearing before planning and zoning was advertised as relating only to ‘industrial site design review.’ This did not give sufficient notice to the public of the fact that planning and zoning would entertain discussion by the public of all aspects relating to the construction of the facility, including, but not limited to, the appropriateness of zoning.
“Because the public had not been notified that all matters concerning the construction of the facility would be entertained, others not in attendance were deprived of the opportunity to speak. Thus, the matter should be remanded to planning and zoning to allow them to give proper notice of the matters to be discussed.”
- The location of the proposed facility is only 86 feet from the Rio Grande Estates residential subdivision in which Alba owns a substantial number of lots, the documents said. “The location of the proposed facility is contrary to the proclaimed purpose of the zoning ordinance (to promote the public health, safety and general welfare), because of the expected pollution, noise, dust, vibration and other adverse conditions which may result from the operation of the facility.”
- “The location of the proposed facility raises substantial questions about potential catastrophes to adjacent neighborhoods in the event of earthquake, explosion, gas line rupture and other cataclysmic events.”
- “There are sufficient energy-producing facilities to serve the public within the area to be served by this facility. Additional facilities are in the course of construction. The approval of this facility is not in the best interest of the public.”
The county commission will place the item on its agenda. “I’m not sure there’s a whole lot we can do,” said County Commission Chairperson Al Padilla of the appeal hearing. “We are going to listen to both sides. Unless they have new information, we normally go with the planning and zoning recommendations.
“Most of the groundwork has been laid. Peoples Energy Resources has followed the process correctly. They selected a location that is zoned I-3 for heavy industry. There really is no way we can prevent the power plant from being built here.”
Padilla said anyone may speak at the hearing, not just the people making the appeal.