By Roger Lanse
An amended notice of intent ordinance termed a superceding NOI because it supercedes the NOI passed by a 3-1 vote at their last meeting, was introduced by its sponsor, District 3 Councilor Jose Ray Jr, at council’s Tuesday, July 10 meeting. Ray was hopeful amendments relating to street definitions, fines, safety equipment, hours of operation, and other factors would be sufficient to persuade the remaining three councilors to go along with the proposed ordinance, which would allow ROVs, popularly called side-by-sides, to be driven on city streets. However, there were still concerns levied at the superceded NOI.
District 2 Councilor Lynda Aiman-Smith continued her questioning of Ray’s NOI stating the original intent of state legislation regarding ROV use was to allow farmers who might be on an ATV and had to travel on a paved road to get to their fields. “The governor also when she signed it said that ‘I want to be clear that the intent of this bill is not to replace or substitute vehicle usage for day-to-day transportation,’” Aiman-Smith said. According to her, the different license plates would make it ‘awkward’ for law enforcement. She expressed concern over the cost of enforcement and the confusion over what is a city street and what is a state or federal highway.
District 1 Councilor Cynthia Bettison wondered whether the side-by-sides would be hard to see or mistaken for motorcycles, and that it would be dark during parts of the legal driving hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Bettison wanted it made clear that voting for this NOI would only move the issue forward for additional discussion before the ordinance is actually approved or disapproved at a later town meeting.
Ray stated he is flexible on the hours of legal operation. He stated, “I called some of the municipalities that allowed them throughout the state and they have no issues whatsoever, none whatsoever. As a matter of fact, some told me that they had expected more side-by-sides and so far they haven’t done it.”
Mayor Ken Ladner asked Town Attorney Robert Scavron if there would be any liability to the town from accidents involving ROVs on city streets. Scavron stated that the ROV manufacturers state that these vehicles are not designed for driving on city streets, but could not state if the town would be liable for allowing a vehicle on city streets if the manufacturer states they are not designed for such, as there is no case law. Scavron said that of all the ordinances he has seen, this NOI is the most comprehensive and allows for the most safety.
Ten residents spoke in the public comment portion of the meeting referencing Ray’s NOI ordinance; one was neutral, four voiced support, one was against, and four seemed to be in support.
The superceded NOI ended up being unanimously approved. It can be viewed on the town’s website.
Another NOI ordinance, this one sponsored by Aiman-Smith, would amend the town’s municipal code regarding certain aspects relating to the formation and operation of various boards, commissions and committees of the town, including holding less frequent meetings, reducing the number of members to five, unexcused absences, ex-officio members, and other elements.
The measure was approved.
Aiman-Smith reminded residents Aug. 4 was the date for the Territorial Charter Volunteer Day in District 2. She mentioned setting up a play street.
Town Manager Alex Brown explained why the town is pulling back on recycling. He said he has been in contact with recyclers in Albuquerque, Tucson, and El Paso and all said they will not be taking single-stream recyclables any longer. However, by talking to the El Paso recycling company, Brown said, they agreed to take the town’s single-stream recycling for $25/ton. “So, we have two options, send it over the scale at the landfill for $46/ton, or send it to Friedman (El Paso) for $25/ton. They did say in six months they were willing to sit down and renegotiate that rate. Hopefully, it’ll be down.”
Brown did a cost-benefit analysis and said, “We’ve got three scenarios, one is to eliminate recycling completely and I don’t think anybody wants to do that. Number two is just to accept corrugated cardboard which is the only market that is strong out there.” The extra cost for bringing everything else over the scales at the landfill, Brown said, would come to about $1.20 per account per month. If the town continues with the third option, single-stream recycling, Brown said, that would result in an extra cost of $ .90 per month per account. He recommended the town continue with single-stream recycling as he can figure into the budget later the extra cost of $ .90 per customer per month.
Brown also told the council that relative to the budget, “We’ve ended up in very good shape. I’m really looking at 32nd Street, to do an overlay on that street, and I really would like to use a portion of that money to do that overlay this year. It would have to be all local money and we do have the money so I’m going to recommend in the final budget that we move that money over into a fund so it can be used for that project only.”
Finally, council approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to negotiate and execute an amendment to a contract for employment between the town and Alex Brown.