By Zach Burkett
Protecting Corrales’ Scenic Values
What do you get a Village that has almost everything on its’ 50th birthday? How about the opportunity for our kids and grandkids to have 50 more years of what we love about it? Wildlife. Agriculture. Historic properties. Nature. And maybe even the chance to see it.
To me, it seems that finally completing a long journey to address a growing issue with fences might just be the perfect gift. Things in Corrales do not move fast, whether we are talking about traffic on Corrales Road or changes to Village Code. This can be both a frustration and a blessing. The hope is that we avoid making hasty decisions and encourage a more deliberate, thoughtful process for any changes of consequence. Some decisions take a long time even by our patient standards. My hope is that the day has finally come to take another look at an item tabled by the Village Council almost exactly 10 years ago to be simply re-worded.
If you think that 10 years is a long time, I would agree, but the story of this runs even longer than that. The Village of Corrales was incorporated in 1971. For many years, people had been drawn to this area for the open space, agriculture and wildlife. As our population grew, the residents and governing bodies of the Village had the foresight to preserve what made it special. In the mid 1990s, Corrales Road was designated a Scenic Byway to both display and protect the agricultural and scenic nature of the drive. This designation came with the responsibility to protect those inherent qualities. In 1999, Corrales created the “Corrales Road Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan” to this end.
In 2007, the Village sent out a survey to all residents in preparation for a revised Comprehensive Plan that was published in 2009. This survey and the resulting plan identified “agricultural fields and orchards, extensive trees and vegetation and scenic views” as characteristic features of the village that the greatest number of respondents agreed upon. Policy 1.3.9 specifically calls out our need to “Maintain a Scenic and Historic Byway Corridor Management Team to protect the scenic and historic character of the Corrales Road Scenic Byway.”
In 2010, Corrales Scenic Byway management was again discussed and supported by Village Council. Shortly after, Village Ordinance 11-007 was drafted to specifically address fencing in the village with the intent of preservation of views both along this corridor and elsewhere in the village. On April 12, 2011, the Corrales Village Council, with the input of their legal counsel, decided to not publish and vote on this ordinance until “the wording is better.” Aside from a handful of stories in the Corrales Comment and informal discussions, that brings us up to date and leaves us with a need to pick up where this was left off.
My short-term goal is to make that wording better. The topic of fences, specifically on high-traffic corridors (Corrales Road, Loma Larga, Old Church…), has been brought to my attention as much, if not more, than any other topic. The support for this idea is strong, but not without some dissent.
We must find a balance between meeting this need while protecting the property rights of our residents: their rights to keep some things in and other things out, their right to privacy and sound abatement, their right to design. Some of our neighboring communities have found a way to balance these important concepts with the spirit of conservation that we find in our Comprehensive Plan. Those ideas will be where this conversation starts.
In the end, there is a strong desire by the residents of Corrales to preserve the visual charm that this village has to offer. I personally want to protect the best 10 minutes of my drive home when I get to roll down my window, take a breath of fresh air and look at the farms, historic properties, livestock and wildlife. I want that for my kids. I want that for Corrales.
I hope that as we celebrate the past 50 years, we are thoughtful in how we shape the next 50. I think this is a gift that we can give the village, ourselves, and those that live here after us.