Paseo roadwork plans upset property owners

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 9/12/19

Planned Paseo del Pueblo Sur roadwork in Taos could spell problems for some property owners as construction looms closer to its 2020 start date. Mante Chacon Jr., owner …

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Paseo roadwork plans upset property owners

Posted

Correction appended.

Planned Paseo del Pueblo Sur roadwork in Taos could spell problems for some property owners as construction looms closer to its 2020 start date.

Mante Chacon Jr., owner of Mante's Chow Cart, said he could be losing all of his front parking spaces due to the road construction and is worried about what the road expansion could do to his business. Chacon said that without a place to park vehicles at the restaurant, his options would be slim for his northern Mante's location.

"It's not just a Mante's problem," Chacon said. "If we go out of business there goes that [gross receipts tax]."

The New Mexico Department of Transportation has applied for permits to use a portion of Mante's parking lot for the upcoming road construction on Paseo del Pueblo. In 2020, the DOT is planning to widen the road and update it with sidewalks and new driveways.

Chacon said the DOT has offered him a settlement payment for the property.

The DOT said the eastern parking lot is encroaching on the right of way of the department and is no longer a viable option for the business with the widening of the road.

"This is a temporary use of a portion of the property and once this construction tie-in is completed, the DOT/contractor will no longer be on their property," Peralta said in an email.

Despite their efforts, Chacon denied the DOT's settlement offers.

The proposed offers would have allowed the DOT to also rebuild the driveway into Mante's and add a sidewalk in front of the location. Businesses along Paseo del Pueblo have had similar discussions with the DOT and many have taken the offer for a portion of their land.

Those who have not are left wondering what will become of their land once the road construction begins.

A longtime Taos resident and landholder, Roy Cunningham agrees with the need to repave the road but is concerned that the new design will be a detriment for Taos.

"This will take the last of the small town out of the small town," Cunningham said. "It's going to do nothing but take jobs and businesses."

Cunningham's property lies directly across Paseo del Pueblo Sur from Mante's and the DOT is planning on altering his front driveway as well. Though he said the condemnation of the property won't be much of a direct burden to him, he is more concerned about what the road expansion will do to the town.

"The trees will all be gone with no plan to plant anything in their place or replacing the fence," he said about the plans for his property.

Peralta said the project will have a "notice to proceed" out to a contractor at the beginning of 2020.

According to DOT officials, if property owners do not find their appraised property offer acceptable, the department moves forward with condemnation notices. From there, the department gets an order from the court allowing the DOT and the contractors to enter the property.

The department is also legally obligated to drop off a check at the county clerk's office for the amount offered for the property.

According to Chacon, he is aware of a check for him at the courthouse but has not picked it up.

Paving will pick up near La Posta Road and will continue north toward Taos Plaza. The widening project will include sidewalks that meet requirements set under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Paseo del Pueblo has several cracks and potholes along the main stretch and is currently not fitted with ADA compliant sidewalks.

DOT officials said that much of the information about this project is currently being used in court cases with some of the property owners. The Paseo del Pueblo road construction plans will become public Monday (Sept. 23).

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the DOT was applying for a construction permit to vehicles and equipment could access the drainage on the property.

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