BOSQUE FARMS — The Bosque Farms mayor and council are mulling over whether to continue allowing residential use of commercial property along the village’s main drag in order to preserve the area for interested businesses which will generate tax revenue.

“I understand when the village started, there were houses along (N.M.) 47 (aka Bosque Farms Boulevard) but I believe we should be leaving the commercial zone as commercial. It shouldn’t be used for residential going forward,” said Mayor Russ Walkup during a discussion of the matter at the Feb. 17 council meeting.

Walkup noted the village’s current zoning ordinance allows residential use of commercially-zoned properties, but the commercial zone on the boulevard is the only one the village has. Commercial zoning in Bosque Farms does not extend east or west off the main street down side streets and collector roads like in some other municipalities.

“I’m trying to protect the commercial zone since we have so little of it,” Walkup said. “I’m just floating the idea. We have had people come in and buy a commercial property (on N.M. 47) and turn it into a residence, which means the village has lost a place for a business and the tax revenue that goes with it.”

Village resident Lee Whorton said several commercial businesses on the boulevard have residences associated with them, pointing out the car wash has a residence above it.

“It gives them security and doesn’t seem to harm anything. It’s still commercial and generating (gross receipts taxes),” Whorton said. “I think it’s unwise … to preclude them from having a residential part.”

Walkup said he would like to see commercial development that included residential living space above a business. Whorton noted that combination was prohibited in the village at one point, but was changed to allow residential use in a commercial building.

“Now you’re going back. If you do, I think you need to marry the two,” she said.

Councilor Ronita Wood said she wasn’t sure why someone would want to live on the boulevard amongst commercial properties.

“I know in (the city of) Peralta, there are homes on (N.M.) 47 and people have brought businesses in,” she said. “(The residents) are unhappy but people need to be aware that’s where businesses are going to go.”

Bosque Farms EMS Division Chief Jeremy Fiedler said current fire codes do not give the village purview over the interior of residential buildings.

“The whole reason for the fire code is we can regulate and inspect for commercial use,” Fiedler said. “If you combine (commercial and residential) we can keep part of the structure safe but not the other, if it’s one structure. A mixture of the two causes problems if they are in one building. Two buildings on one property is a different issue.”

Walksup said fire safety was something that could be addressed if the council decided to explore the issue further.

“This is just a discussion. I’m trying to get a feel if this is something we want to delve into,” he said.

Council members agreed the issue was something they wanted to research and explore. No action was taken by the council or timeline laid out for a change of the ordinance.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.