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Re-zoning request denied by Raton commissioners

RATON — Raton City Commissioners met Tuesday evening to hear an appeal requested by Andy Holman concerning the Raton Planning and Zoning Committee’s denial to rezone two blocks in the Fairview addition of Raton from R-5 to R-1 residential zone. Holman’s request was to rezone blocks 14 and 15 from an R-5 zone, which has a minimum of 6,000 square feet area where houses are closer together than a R-1 zone with a one-acre minimum space lot. The blocks are on the south side of Fairview Avenue and north of I-25. The land has historically been used as pasture for cattle or horses for years, but even then it was in violation of city zoning ordinances. Holman requested blocks 14 and 15 be rezoned from an R-5 to an R-1 residential zone. The request was denied by the planning and zoning committee and their denial was upheld by the commission. At issue is not the type of zoning, but the use of the land with regard to animals. Current zoning ordinances allow for animals within the city limits, but limits the use to only three animals and the

animals’ owner must obtain the approval of neighbors within 500 feet of the property. When Crystal Denton, owner of the horses, first moved to Raton, she was unaware of the requirement before she located the horses to the property. The horses are being used in horse therapy for some of the Citizens for the Developmentally Disabled and Wounded Warrior projects. Bert Dennis, a member of the Equine Rescue Board, noted the program needs to have a permanent location in order to get New Mexico State Livestock Board approval, which will allow them to seek additional grants and funding to purchase more suitable property in the area. But until they get approval they can’t get the funding, a Catch-22 situation for the group. Commissioner Lindé Schuster suggested the group work with the neighbors and relocate all the horses to block 15, which is the westernmost part of the property. She said Denton needs to get written occupancy proof to get an exception for the property. All of the commissioners agreed there is a need for the horse rescue operation in Raton and wanted to see it stay, however, they had to abide by zoning ordinances currently in place. In other business, commissioners approved the JJAC grant budget adjustment. Commissioners approved the $37,000 dispatch agreement with Colfax County. Berry reported a quick look at costs indicate the actual cost to handle the dispatch load was closer to $50,000. Berry said the expense would be studied city officials will meet with county officials to renegotiate the contract for next year. Berry said Dan Campbell was in meetings with the Water Quality Control Commission about water issues that could affect the city in the future. Berry said the New Mexico National Guard Readiness Center at the airport was now vacant, and is requesting the guard donate it to the city.