Affordable housing was the topic of choice for many members of the public during the most recent meeting to discuss the new Town of Taos Comprehensive Plan.
Nearly 40 members of the public tuned in last Wednesday (Nov. 10) to listen or express their opinions on the future of Taos.
As members of the public introduced themselves, they were asked to state what aspects of the plan they felt were most important. Nearly half of the participants said affordable housing was a top priority, followed by concerns about recycling, sustainability, parks and recreation, transportation and more.
As town residents asked questions pertaining to housing, zoning, and future development, planning consultants Liza Miller and Steve Burstein of Architectural Research Consultants Inc. were there to answer questions and listen to concerns.
Some of those in attendance included town councilors Fritz Hahn and Darien Fernandez, Taos Ski Valley Chief Executive Officer Dave Norden, Sonya Struck with the LOR Foundation, and Lisa O’Brien with the Taos Community Foundation.
Miller said she was glad to see so many people in attendance after the first Comprehensive Plan meeting drew just five members of the public. “The plan should represent the community voice, which is our whole goal here… the public is absolutely an essential part,” she said.
“It’s quite a cohesive message we’ve gotten from the community in Taos in regard to what they want to see happen,” said Miller in reference to affordable housing. Burstein said part of the plan is to hopefully create mixed-use housing types with the goal of providing an affordable housing option for a family with a median income.
With lots of engaged citizens, the meeting went two hours over the allotted time, and Miller and Burstein patiently took in all the advice and public comments. Other issues raised included the expansion of broadband, the protection of cyclists and keeping youth in Taos after graduation. All public comments were noted and will be compiled in the appendix of the plan.
Additional meetings will be held as Miller and Burstein continue to gather public input to help shape the goals of the new plan. “Part of the process is figuring out what goes in and doesn’t go in,” said Miller, who noted they were dealing with 14 previous planning documents to lay the groundwork. “We try to prioritize things based on what is accomplishable, what will have the greatest impact, what is the level of public support, and what research is available.”
She said the items that meet all of those criteria is what is prioritized and included in the plan.
Moving forward, a first draft of the plan will be published on Dec. 10 for public review. Next steps involve workshopping the plan with the Planning and Zoning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission (though both currently lack a quorum).
A final draft of the plan will be published on Jan. 12, then it will go before the town council for a public hearing and potential adoption on Feb. 8, 2022.