RATON — Country club residents were upset, to say the least, with the city commission’s decision not to overturn the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission which will allow BeeHive Homes, an assisted living franchise company with facilities in 14 states, to build an assisted living facility on the property west of the old ARF Products Inc. television assembly franchise plant. The property owners in the country club addition have created covenants for the country club area that restrict the type of facility that Bee Hive is proposing to build in the area. The owners claim the planning and zoning commission has a duty to follow the city zoning ordinances and not allow a business to locate in a residential area. Federal law does not allow discrimination against the elderly and therefore allows for assisted living facilities in residential areas, but the covenants the country club property owners have in place do not allow multiple dwelling living facilities. The sentiment by the property owners is “not in our backyard.” Several of those speaking out are not against Bee Hive locating in Raton, just not in that location. They suggested the El Portal property should be considered as a viable location for this facility. Property owners felt this kind of facility would be a detriment to their area and cause their property
values to drop. Deb Harris noted that ARF is an industrial building and who knows what kind of business could locate there. She added that this facility could act as a buffer for the property owners in the area. At issue also, is that the planning and zoning commission did not place restrictions on the facility concerning such items as parking, lighting and security. One concern property owners mentioned more than once was what would happen if one of the residents were to escape from the facility since that area is known for its wildlife. Presently the only assisted living facility in Colfax County is Hope’s Colfax Senior Care, 251 Francis Ave., in Raton. Trinidad has expressed interest in developing an assisted living facility in addition to The Legacy, and the Spanish Peaks Foundation is currently selecting contractors for a new facility to be located west of Walsenburg. Commissioners then voted on four items concerning the actions of the planning and zoning commission. Based on the hearing evidence and what has been presented to commissioners, they voted that the planning and zoning commission did act appropriately and did not violate any laws in allowing the special exception. The commission therefore did not overturn the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission to allow the special exception for Bee Hive to build in that area just west of ARF. Owner and Attorney Sarah Montoya told the commission that the planning and zoning commission failed to protect the property owners from this type of active business and added they will exercise their right to appeal the City Commission decision and will take this issue to court. Do covenants overrule federal law, and is the city responsible for enforcing covenants or can they even enforce covenants if they conflict with city ordinances? In other commission business, commissioners approved the financial report (General Fund Summary 1-31-2015) noting that the Gross Receipts Tax revenue is just over 1.3% below budget. They also approved the application of local government road fund grants for reconstruction work on Hospital Drive and Card Ave. Raton City Manager Scott Berry told commissioners the money will be used to reconstruct the intersection on Hospital Drive and Card Avenue and repave Hospital Drive up to the old hospital. In the city manager report, Berry told commissioners the meetings in Santa Fe went well, as did the discussions with the state engineer about the Lake Maloya Dam repairs and rehabilitation. They will be expensive, probably in the millions of dollars. Berry also noted that Dr. David Ivan, who is a small town economic development specialist at the University of Michigan, will be in town Monday March 9 at 6 pm at the Convention Center to talk about small town economic development and ways for small towns to compete in today’s economy. Berry is asking everyone who can to attend the meeting. The next regular Raton City Commission meeting will be March 10 at 6 pm and will be carried on KRTN AM 1490.