Taos County has a new planning commission after the county board of commissioners appointed new members to the job at the beginning of the year. While the county received a total of 13 applications, they ultimately had to settle on five: Eugene Sanchez, Billy Knight, Hank Saxe, Nicanor Ortega and Judy Torres —each nominated by a district commissioner.
Planning Director Edward Vigil said in the county commission meeting Jan. 4 that he was glad to see so many interested parties.
“In years past it’s been extremely difficult to generate interest. We usually put up a Taos legal ad,” he said. However, this year they had a large pool to choose from due, in part, to outreach from commissioners and management, Vigil said. He recommended the instatement of the new planning commission to the county commissioners and an unanimous yes-vote was cast.
The planning commission is responsible for the initial approval of any new development in Taos that doesn’t strictly adhere to county code. This includes the amendment of various zoning regulations and other approvals needed by the county to comply with building codes, such as special use permits (SUP).
The planning commission came under fire from some last year when they approved a SUP allowing the construction of the Desert Flower Camping Resort off of County Road 110 in a primarily residential neighborhood.
While the campground was ultimately denied after its appeal by neighbors to the County Board of Commissioners, the planning commission played a large part in nearly sealing a zoning fate that many considered to be against the current regulations (it was a 3-2 vote by the planning commission in favor of the campground).
The new planning commission is has no scheduled meetings yet, as they are still under the governor's COVID mandate. However, they will hold special meetings with 72 hours notice if a planning need presents itself.