With a 3 to 1 vote, the Los Lunas Village Council has denied a petition from San Clemente Catholic Church to vacate Tafoya Road.
The church, which is in the process of completing $1.5 million worth of construction to renovate the facility, planned to use the 50-foot right-of-way for parking and an entrance to the lot.
“The church should have made an effort to talk to the Bacas,” Councilor Robert Vialpando said at the recent council meeting.
Joseph A. Baca and his wife, Consuelo, own the piece of land located a block from Tafoya Road behind San Clemente Church. The road intersects with Don Diego Street and terminates at a dead end adjacent to the existing church parking lot.
The Bacas protested the church’s request before the village council. If the road was vacated, they said, they wouldn’t have access to their property from Tafoya Road.
“We were rather distressed to read about the notice regarding that piece of land,” Baca told the council. “The road is not a dead end, because it goes to our property. Some access has to be available to it.”
Many years ago, Baca said, his mother-in-law gave two acres to the church. “We donated money to the church renovation, now it’s being used to try and vacate our land.”
The vacant lot, which is zoned both residential and commercial, is separated by an unused ditch. As privately owned land, the ditch runs through the Bacas’ property.
Although the Bacas still have access to the property through Luna and Main Street, Baca dismissed the idea of an easement being used to access his property on Tafoya Road.
Sue Padilla, business manager of San Clemente Church, requested the right-of-way be vacated because it is not used by the public.
“We want to protect the investment our parishoners have made,” she said.
The argument was made that, because the ditch is there, it separates the property that needs access, and because the Bacas are the adjacent owners of the property, it would become their own responsibility to close the ditch.
Padilla said the ditch is not an issue relating to the church’s request to vacate Tafoya Road. “It would not affect the church,” she said.
“We don’t know exactly what will happen on the commercial piece of land,” Councilor Cecilia “CC” Castillo said. “Maybe we will need Tafoya Road. It’s something to consider for future development.”
Padilla said she followed the proper procedures when she called village hall and was told to look at the state statute. “I was instructed to file a petition. I did exactly what I was instructed to do,” she said.
“I was disappointed with the decision. I felt they were asking us to negotiate with the Bacas for something the church had no control over.”
“The council acted in the best interest of the Village of Los Lunas and its people,” Joseph Baca said.
In other action, the Los Lunas Village Council
- Proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
- Approved annexation and a zone change for Rick Torres of Rick’s Mobile Homes for land belonging to Bob Spears. The property is located on NM 47, south of Heritage Park, adjacent to the mobile home park.
- Approved the dedication and acceptance for maintenance of Calle de Wenses as a public-right-of-way. Cottonwood Plaza has constructed this roadway and was required to install infrastructure to meet village standards. A walk-through was conducted by the village’s engineers, staff developer, contractor and engineer. A list has been produced of minor repair items to be completed prior to April 30.