Business

Riverside Funeral sideswiped over parking – again

By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com
Posted 10/11/18

A funeral services company trying to establish a site in Taos has for a second time seen its application fail over concerns about parking.

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Business

Riverside Funeral sideswiped over parking – again

Posted

A funeral services company trying to establish a site in Taos has for a second time seen its application fail over concerns about parking.

Riverside Funeral Home, a company with a Santa Fe location that has been serving Taos County clients for more than a year, asked the town for a permit to open a funeral home in the former Earlene's Cafe at 1014 Paseo del Pueblo Sur. The permit application was twice denied by the town planning commission, most recently during a regular meeting Oct. 3.

The proposed Riverside property has 26 parking spaces, meeting the town's zoning requirements.

At the request of the planning commission, Riverside created a plan for overflow parking in the month since its application failed for the first time. The plan called for limiting services at the 2,000 square-foot location to 60 people and ensuring funeral processions wouldn't make cumbersome left-hand turns onto Taos' busy highway.

As part of the parking plan, Riverside also had letters from the owners of two nearby properties, the Hotel Don Fernando de Taos and the undeveloped area next to the Pieces thrift store, to allow for overflow parking in those lots. The letters are not legally binding agreements. Planning commissioner Pavel Lukes said the parking agreement was "not worth the paper it's written on."

While planning staff recommended approval for the permit, Taos Town Manager Rick Bellis told the commission those parking agreements could be invalidated in the near future. He said the town has seen a site plan to develop the lot next to the thrift store and that the Don Fernando ownership and branding could soon "switch over" from current owner and developer Jay Batra to the Hilton hotel empire.

The Taos News attempted to reach the owners of both properties proposed for overflow parking to confirm details of the agreements, which were not available on the town's website. They did not respond as of deadline.

The vote was tied 3-3. Commissioners Pavel Lukes, Billy Romero and James Pollard voted to deny the application while commissioners Jan Debay, Norbert Mondragon and Phillip Alexander-Econom voted in its favor. Doug Patterson, chair of the commission, recused himself from the vote. He is the architect for a rival funeral home company that has received Taos County approval to remodel a former funeral home further south on Paseo.

Riverside Funeral Home can re-submit its application to the town's planning commission.

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