Serna board in no hurry to pull deed

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After offering assurances that it would rescind a warranty deed that is disrupting real estate transactions on 22,000 acres in and around Taos, the board of trustees for Cristóbal de la Serna Land Grant now says it will take it's time in getting the deed off the books.

"It's not exactly that easy," board president Elden Torres told The Taos News Thursday (March 3). Torres said the board discussed the issue in executive session after the normal meeting and decided to seek additional advice before acting.

"We're going to look into legal help and see what needs to be done in that regard, or if it even can be done," Torres said.

The board met Wednesday night (March 2) and faced several questions regarding the deed, which was filed in December 2010. The deed asserted to pass ownership of the entire grant to the sitting board of trustees, and it has stalled several real estate transactions because it potentially clouds title to all properties within the grant boundaries.

Francisco "Comanche" Gonzales, who does not sit on the board but who spoke for much of the meeting on behalf of the board, said repeatedly that the problem would be fixed.

"That part is going to be cleared and taken care of," Gonzales said.

Other board members agreed, insisting that they were only interested in a 7,000-acre section of the grant know as the "lineas." The board said it hopes to bring the lineas under its control to preserve what open space remains for the heirs of the original settlers there.

But when interviewed Thursday, Torres said the board was concerned that revoking the deed for the entire grant would hurt its chances of one day reclaiming land that it considers the rightful property of grant heirs.

"If this deed comes off, where does that leave us?" Torres said. "Do we just get pushed to the bottom of the books, with no recognition? Obviously, I'm not looking at it as a leverage point, but we want people to listen to us and not just get pushed away."

At last night's meeting, Roberto O. Gonzales — the man who filed the infamous warranty deed — said he put his name on the paperwork that was filed with the clerk in order to draw attention to the board's activities.

Torres said he was open to working with local officials in finding a solution to the issue.

"I'm not trying to do this vindictively, or take away people's property or hurt the county," Torres said.

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