Peoples Energy Resources will appear before the Valencia County Planning and Zoning Commission on Aug. 13 as it applies for a site design review for its Valencia Energy power plant proposed for the Rio Grande Industrial Park southwest of Rio Communities.
“Peoples Energy has submitted a packet requesting a site design review,” said Ruben Chavez, county planning and zoning enforcement officer. “We have completed the primary review and it will now go before the planning and zoning commission for their review and decision regarding approval.”
Any review by the planning and zoning commission may be called before the Valencia County Commission if a motion is made to order a review of any decision made pursuant to the review procedures, according to county ordinances.
“I believe we are in compliance with the zoning ordinance for the industrial park,” said Cameron Epard, director of the power generation division of Peoples Energy Resources. “The site review will be looking at our site plan, landscaping, traffic circulation and such; it’s not a zoning change request.”
“The location of the proposed power plant was previously properly zoned, so all we can really review is the site design,” said Herman Tabet, who chairs the planning and zoning commission. “I don’t see too many problems with it.”
During the review process, the planning and zoning commission looks at the development plan, schedule of development and site analysis, which includes existing conditions, drainage and ponding, flooding and geological hazards, landscaping criteria, classification of soils, existing structures and improvements, roadways and utilities affecting the property, as well as ownership, property lines and building location.
The application for site design review is the only part of the permitting process for which Peoples Energy needs county approval, since the location proposed for the 280-megawatt power plant is in a zoned industrial park and it would purchase water from New Mexico Water Service Company, formerly the Rio Grande Utility Company.
The Rio Grande Industrial Park is zoned for heavy industry, which is how the power plant is classified.
Regarding the water, by law, the New Mexico Water Service Company (NMWSC) must provide water for the Rio Grande Industrial Park because it is located within its utility service boundaries.
Bob Davey, president of NMWSC, said he is unable to discriminate to whom the company sells water within the boundaries of the service area.