Even though the Village counselors will not meet until December 14 to revisit the cannabis issue, villagers have tried to make their voices heard in the interim by writing to the council. Published in this edition of the Comment are letters, and in one case, an advertisement for a petition, sent in the hopes of influencing the upcoming decision for which the counsellors bought themselves more time at the last meeting
Steve Gutierrez, a villager who lives at the north end of Corrales, has a unique and important perspective on the cannabis issue, having been involved in the making of ordinance 18-002. This legislation, approved in 2018, disallowed the growth of cannabis in Corrales residential areas, those zoned A-1, A-2, and H-1.
Corrales zoning is one of the difficulties the Council must deal with, since there are no areas in the village that are zoned as purely residential. In other communities, the residential “R” zone designation protects residents from having commercial activity in their neighborhoods. In Corrales, all properties have conflated residential designations with agricultural, historical or commercial designations. Zone “A-1” refers to a piece of land that is one agricultural-use acre, and this designation covers the vast majority of Corrales. “A-2” is a 2-acre agricultural plot. Properties zoned “H” are historical sites.
In his letter, Gutierrez says, “With the large influx of applicants for recreational growth of cannabis, and the threat that ordinance 18-002 violated the Cannabis Regulation Act, the administration and council, likely out of fear of being sued, hastily passed an amendment to the existing ordinance, eliminating the protections against the growth of cannabis in our residential areas.”
Gutierrez quotes an unnamed “close associate who has been heavily involved with the Cannabis Regulation Act,” who he asked to review ordinance 18-002. This associate found the ordinance to be in compliance with the Act, saying, “The Village of Corrales has the authority to prohibit the production of cannabis in certain zones so long as there are other zoning categories in which the production of cannabis is allowed, which is what the Village did when it adopted Ordinance 18-002.”
Looking at the issue from another perspective is a group of villagers who are leadership members of a small grassroots organization called Sandoval County Indivisible.
In their letter, Bert Coxe, Gary Sims, Terry Eisenbart and Nandini Kuehn voice their concern that a “vocal minority of Corrales residents, for a variety of reasons, is trying to push the Village Council to do something that it does not have the legal authority to do, and that in doing so the Council may be putting the village and its citizens in jeopardy to pay monetary damages in the future.”
The four authors go on to say, “Some people in the village are lobbying to have very extensive regulations of cannabis cultivation, and they essentially want the Village government to ban commercial cannabis cultivation in the village. Some people are clearly very worked up about this, and a petition is being passed around.”
The third submission in the Comment this week is presumably from these “clearly very worked up” people and does include a petition. While vocal, this group certainly doesn’t seem small. Their goal appears to be similar to that of Mr. Gutierrez, to ask councillors to pass an ordinance that would prohibit growing cannabis in residential zones.
People across our village are speaking out about this very contentious issue, and waiting to see how the Village Council will respond to their many appeals.