By Roger Lanse
Sponsored by District 2 Councilor Lynda Aiman-Smith, the Silver City Town Council at its Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2019, meeting considered a superceding notice of intent (NOI) ordinance amending certain sections of the town’s code of ordinances governing the keeping of bees within town limits. Ever since an incident a little more than a year ago when an individual was stung more than 100 times near the Dog Park by a swarm of bees that escaped from a beekeeper in town, council has been attempting to regulate beekeeping to protect town residents but also to allow beekeepers to practice their interest. The original and other superceding NOI beekeeping ordinances were presented to council by Aiman-Smith prior to this one, and all have had critics on one side of the issue or the other.
This beekeeping NOI, redefines terms such as ‘animal,’ ‘bite or bitten,’ and adds a new definition for ‘aggressive and undesirable bee behavior.’ Beekeepers within the town would be required to register the location of their hives with the town and to post a copy of said registration on the property where the hives are located. Failure to register and post would incur fines of $50 per day up to a $200 maximum.
According to this NOI, it would be unlawful for beekeepers to permit aggressive and undesirable honey bee behavior or any other bee activity that may result in harm to others. The Silver City Police Department, including animal control officers, would be responsible for enforcing the new ordinance.
The NOI was approved on a split vote, Aiman-Smith and District 1 Councilor Cynthia Bettison voting ‘aye,’ and District 3 Councilor Jose Ray Jr. and District 4 Councilor Guadalupe Cano voting ‘nay.’ Mayor Ken Ladner cast the tie-breaker, ‘aye.’ According to Town Attorney Robert Scavron, consideration of the final adoption of this NOI will probably be at the council’s meeting on September 20.
Kylle Marshall, Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention for the Silver City Fire Department informed council of the fire code requirements for short term rental units. Of the 15 that have applied for a business license, Marshall said, two of those have “sparked“ a fire inspection. The reason being, Marshall said, is that most short-term rentals fall under the International Residential Code not the International Fire Code. According to the International Fire Code, he said, these units are restricted to 10 people or five sleeping rooms. However, he continued, the International Residential Code which would allow for local inspections hasn’t been adopted by the town. In answer to a question by Aiman-Smith, Marshall said, “So, if they don’t have an occupancy of 10 or more or if they don’t have five rooms, we don‘t inspect them at all.”
Al Gamboa told council that Councilor Ray and others are planning a Grant County Carnitas, Musica, y Mas festival for the 2019 Labor Day weekend at Gough Park. Bands, a car show, food, and dancing are planned, Ray told the Beat. Ray said the permits are being applied for and they plan to bring it before council for approval at the next meeting.
Town Manager Alex Brown told council that lodgers’ tax revenue to the town last year was $352,000, and has increased about 15 percent each year for the past few years. So far this year (the month of July 2019), the town is 23 percent higher in lodgers’ tax revenue ($38,000) over that same month last year.
Council also approved an ordinance amending Chapter 40 of the town’s code of ordinances relating to solid waste and recyclable materials. The existing 30-day arbitrary period to change contractors for garbage pickup was not long enough, Brown said. The amended ordinance deletes that section.
Council approved a resolution adopting the Silver City Museum’s strategic plan. The museum’s director, Bart Roselli, said the plan seeks to gain accreditation with the American Association of Museums, to double the volume of visitors from the 17,000 this year, to make the collections more representative to the community, to take better care of the house housing the museum, and to increase volunteers, among other steps.
An agreement between the town and the Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments was approved by council. Brown stated the SWNMCG provides a wide range of services to the town, and cited the help that organization gives to the Silver City Museum as an example. Bettison said the town pays the SWNMCG $6,189 per year and that is a small amount for what the town receives in services.
Council approved a resolution authorizing an application for financial assistance from the New Mexico Finance Authority for a sports complex project. Brown told council the loan would add to what the town already has to complete the concession stand and restroom facilities at Scott Park and to reconstruct one of the baseball fields.
Also approved by council was a resolution authorizing another application for financial assistance from the NMFA for fire equipment. Brown said this loan would be for $650,000 to purchase a new fire truck and a new brush truck.
A resolution sponsored by Ray, authorizing the town manager to approve or disapprove private celebration permits when the sale of alcoholic beverages is involved, rather than come before the council each time, was approved. Brown pointed out that department heads like the chief of police would still have to sign off on the permit.
Ladner appointed Twana Sparks to the cemetery board and Simon Wheaton Smith to the planning and zoning commission.