Members of a new district board for northern Socorro County said Wednesday that they’ll work along with area residents to set up their own zoning as a way to protect an agricultural lifestyle.
Results from Tuesday’s Socorro County Special Zoning District election showed that Warren Reynolds of Sabinal won the Position 1 seat, with 85 votes.
Tony J. Salas of Bernardo was elected to the Position 3 seat, with 75 votes, while Lucy Lopez of San Francisco won the Position 2 seat, with 81.
Eugene N. Carrillo of Abeytas took Position 4, with 49 votes, and Romy Skinner of Sabinal won Position 5, with 80 votes. All five will serve four-year terms.
Residents of Abeytas, Bernar-do, Sabinal, Ranchos de Bern-ardo and San Francisco were allowed to vote in the election.
The special district will let residents set up their own zoning codes. Previous attempts on Socorro County’s part to establish zoning failed, partially due to resident concerns over property rights and regulations.
A special zoning district came after Cobisa Rio announced that it wanted to build a power plant near Sabinal.
Residents of the area have generally been strongly opposed to the plant and formed neighborhood associations.
In response to the opposition, the Socorro County Commission voted last December to impose a moratorium on power plant construction.
This special district, which stretches from the Valencia-Socorro County line on the north side to the Sevilleta Refuge in the south, must have 20,000 or fewer acres.
Skinner, a secretary for District Judge Edmund Kase III, said the board will meet as soon as it can.
“We’ll talk about our area, what needs to be done and make sure our area is maintained in a manner that satisfies residents when it comes to keeping a good clean environment,” she said.
Salas said the board and the community need to sit down and develop some ordinances for the district. “We want to keep the agricultural lifestyle we have,” said Salas, who runs the Didio’s Mini-Mart in Bernardo and teaches school in Belen. “We’re really making history by doing this.”
Salas said he wanted to thank those who got out and voted.
Salas said two other zoning districts, for Veguita, Las Nutrias, Contreraas and La Joya and Ranchos de Veguita and Rio Grande Estates are still in the petition stage.
Reynolds, who works for a telecommunications company, said one board goal is to have the community develop its own land-use ordinance, without infringing on property rights.
“We want to protect our property rights from large industrial uses moving in,” he said.
“The district was something a lot of people wanted anyway. The power plant was just a catalyst. We’d talked about a special zoning district a couple of years ago, but (Socorro County) dropped the ball on it.”