Don’t trust the billionaire 


Once again, the scorpion (Harvey Yates, oil and gas developer and billionaire) has put forth a proposal to rezone 300 acres surrounding Rio Communities’ residents.  

Mr. Yates intends to turn future residential acreage, land with the spectacular views that surrounds our quiet and peaceful residential neighborhoods, into another haphazard manufacturing and commercial industrial zone — ala South Broadway in Albuquerque.  

Trusting the scorpion, and giving it a “free ride” on our backs is a mistake our leaders literally can’t afford to make.  

First off, included in the Yate’s plan to turn Rio Communities into a “South Broadway,” is the plan to bring a noisy railroad spur into the area. While far off sounds of a distant railroad might appeal to some, nobody buys a home in Rio Communities in hopes that a railroad track will be built 300 feet from their back door.  

And given the potential environmental threat a derailment can pose, the recent East Palestine, Ohio (2023) train derailment comes to mind, in which a hazardous chemical cocktail polluted the air for weeks and resulted in an immediate one mile radius evacuation from ground zero, Rio Communities residents will be sitting ducks.  

Sadly, on any given day of the week, Rio Communities residents still suffer from the noxious gas odors emitted by Mesa Oil of which City Manager (Martin) Moore stated that Rio Communities has “no jurisdiction” over. (3/7/24) 

Secondly, Rio Communities cannot afford a court battle with Yates, an oil magnate and billionaire. City Manager Moore would have us believe that the developers will follow all city, state and federal government rules when it comes to noise, water, light and air pollution, in addition to the “no oil processing or storage” rule.  

Moore told concerned citizens at the last planning and zoning meeting (3/7/24) that if Yates and company broke those rules, Rio Communities could charge Yates, and take him to court to sue for damages.  

Why would we even consider exposing ourselves to costly litigation risk that would surely bankrupt our struggling community? Suing Mr. Yates is not a solution. Remember, a scorpion will not be able to resist the urge, it is in his character.  

Finally, Rio Communities city leaders, (particularly the old guard) have done little to earn our trust in their ability to manage this city’s growth. Over the years, the leaders have proven they are unable to manage or maintain the city’s parks, roads, ordinances or businesses. (See the abandoned and crumbling buildings that line the main street of our town if any proof is needed.)  

Over 200 concerned Rio Communities’ citizens attended public meetings last year, between January and March, to unanimously voice our concerns. Many hours of public testimony clearly stated we are against rezoning the residential land Yates purchased.  

Since then, Mayor Joshua Ramsell and city manager Martin Moore have met with Yates and his lawyer, and have been persuaded to reconsider last year’s proposal by Harvey Yates. It appears they want to give the scorpion a ride across the river and throw caution to the wind.  

At 6 p.m., Monday, April 1, in the Rio Communities City Council chambers, the public will have one opportunity to be heard one final time before the city council votes on the re-zoning issue.  

Mark your calendar, and please consider attending. The scorpion will sting us, it is in his character.  

Maria and Eulalia Gonzales 

Rio Communities 

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