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Dear Editor:

My wife Alicia and I have lived in Corrales for over 26 years and have raised our children here.  I am a licensed real estate broker who has been continuously active in my profession here locally for over 35 years. 

We have no objection to the personal use and cultivation of marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal purposes on and in one’s residence.

We are strongly opposed however, to commercial cultivation in residential areas that are zoned A-1 and A-2 and any other zone designations that apply to residential property use in the village. 

Aside from problems associated with increased traffic, noise, and odors that affect many in proximity to such operations —the attractive nuisance of commercial cultivation will attract potential crime and the resulting spillover of non-village people who have no investment or concern for the security of our rural lifestyle that so many have worked hard to preserve.

The property at 3577 Loma Larga and 119 Veronica Court are just two addresses on applications for commercial cultivation permits that are in close proximity to our home, among dozens more that have submitted applications throughout every other residential part of Corrales. 

Upon greenlighting this commercial exploitation of our precious natural resources (water), and our security and comfort, Fire Department Chief Anthony Martinez might want to consider installing a much larger water piping system along Loma Larga, as there is the strong potential for residential-use domestic wells to run dry, and hence, a critical need for city water to flow out of our taps once the commercial growers suck the aquifer empty.

As a real estate professional who has assisted individuals and families with the purchase and sale of their homes in the village for many years, approving the commercial marijuana grow industry will have a significant negative impact on “everyone’s” property value, an undesirable but inevitable effect of our elected leaders ignoring their constituents’ welfare in favor of giving preference and support to an industry that will impact our home values, personal safety, and the health and enjoyment we deserve and have come to expect as property owners and stakeholders in Corrales.

We urge our mayor and the councillors to heed the needs and the pleas of the Village residents that they serve, and not enable nor permit commercial cultivation of marijuana in our residential neighborhoods.

Steve and Alicia Murthal

Dear Editor:

I feel compelled to respond to the statements reported by the Corrales Comment in Mike Hamman’s “Exit Interview” as the MRGCD director in the December 18, 2021 issue, as well as his out-of-order pro-commercial cannabis comments during the December 14 Village Council meeting. He used his time under the Village Administrator’s agenda to spend several minutes discussing the errors and misconceptions of those who signed petitions favoring a ban on commercial cannabis operations in zones A-1 and A-2. The public was restricted to two minutes each under a subsequent agenda item reserved for cannabis legislations discussion, but Hamman was allowed to freewheel for several minutes before Councillor Stuart Murray raised a point of order. Even then, the mayor allowed Hamman to continue to “wrap up” his presentation with additional time.

Hamman has used his position and influence as MRGCD director to expound on and misrepresent facts about the Village’s exposure to harmful effects of commercial cannabis operations in residential areas, and he either intentionally misrepresents, or is ignorant about, the science, economics, neighborhood effects and implementation of commercial cannabis grow facilities. Further, he may have used his position and influence to obtain commercial permits for water rights to support a cannabis grow operation on land that he owns in Corrales.

I believe this sort of misinformation is common for the pro-commercial cannabis supporters in Corrales. There has been significant misrepresentation of facts as well as personal misrepresentation from those claiming to be disinterested parties.

For example, Hamman claims that commercial cannabis uses “less water than tomatoes, corn and other crops in California”. What he doesn’t explain, however, is that those studies are for outdoor growth, and not the intensive, high density, high tunnel, greenhouse indoor cultivation of cannabis plants proposed to be allowed in Corrales. It is very well documented that a water usage rate of two to six gallons of water per plant per day is typical for cannabis growers. For 100 adult plants using the median amount, that annual consumption can be as high as 146,000 gallons of water annually, not including water usage for evaporative cooling as well.

Hamman further says that those seeking protection for A1 and A2 who are “fear mongering” might convince the Village Council to take action which would limit opportunities for local farmers to make a “decent living.” This is simply nonsense.

We are not asking to limit any existing abilities of a farmer to make a living. No changes affecting traditional farmers at all. We just don’t want to be subjected to noxious odors and toxic BVOC emissions that are a by-product, along with grow lights, excessive noise, increased traffic, damage to an already diminishing water table, and lowered property values of commercial cannabis cultivation. Realtors now require that persons wanting to transact houses near the two medical cannabis facilities must state the presence of such facilities in the real estate transaction disclosure documents.

The real issue is that commercial cannabis is huge money for a select few Corraleños who are willing to risk the quality of life of the rest of us to make a large profit for themselves in a business fraught with significant threat to others. But the business is extremely lucrative. A master gardener can cultivate 4 to 6 lbs. of product from a cannabis plant. The current spot price for cannabis is $1300 per pound. 100 plants producing 5 lbs. each yields a wholesale price of $650,000.

Quite the “decent living” don’t you think? As long as you don’t worry about the long term effects on neighbors.

Lastly, Hamman in both his farewell write-up in the Comment, as well as during an out-of-order monologue during the December 14 Village Council meeting, represented himself as not “having a dog in this fight” and that he is simply “pro-farmer.” But that simply is not the fact. He does have a dog in the fight.

What Hamman failed to mention is that he and Sally Olguin applied for a water use diversion to create a commercial well during 2021. Sally Olguin has likewise applied for a commercial cannabis license under “Monte Vista Farm and Market Inc.” along with Antonio Olguin for 100 plants, and that both Hamman and Olguin have co-resided at a residence on Mountain View Lane, which is immediately adjacent to the site for the high tunnel cannabis greenhouse they propose. The properties upon which they live, and upon which the proposed commercial cannabis operation will reside belong jointly to Olguin andHamman.

How can this possibly be considered as not “having a dog in this fight”? How does someone so quickly know about and obtain commercial water rights? Well, perhaps it helps to be the director of MRGCD and have all the right connections. How does someone stand in front of the governing body and claim that he is an uninterested party, criticize those of us concerned about livability and quality of life, say similar things to a Corrales Comment interviewer, and yet claim that he is completely Corrales cannabis neutral?

Public officials have been investigated and excoriated for less, and perhaps the Sandoval County Ethics Commission or the newly created N.M. Ethics Commission would have an interest in Hamman’s conduct. An ethics investigation might be in order at both the county and state level.

Frank Wirtz

Dear Editor:

We may be hurting the climate with our climate plan.

It is clear that humans have caused the recent spike in atmospheric CO2, and while some are still arguing about how fast that will affect us, recent weather events and trends are not encouraging.

Synergistic effects like wildfires, release of frozen CO2 from permafrost, and continued loss of forests suggest getting a real plan in place sooner rather than later.  Doing what we can to decrease CO2 emissions is extremely important and Patti Flanagan’s letter (December 18, 2021) highlights simple steps we can take to help.

Substantial emissions are associated with creating the steel, concrete, wiring, transport and earth-moving required unless that manufacturing energy is provided by a zero- or low-carbon means.  Building zero carbon energy sources also produces carbon by using existing fuels to produce the silicon cells, wind generators, cement, rebar and metals required. 

A large, fast, spending program for infrastructure over a short period can cause the manufacturing-carbon cost of fixing prior neglect to produce near-term increases in CO2.  A possible near-term way to decrease this impact is with nuclear power. While avoiding this source may be a good long-term target, ignoring it as a possible transitional way to limit damage to the planet is a disservice.

Legislators seem to be shooting wildly at individual items known to help and ignoring the cost to the environment of producing them or their aggregate results. An all-electric passenger car fleet in the United States assumed by Build Back Better and, using statistics from bts.gov, eia.gov, and epa.gov, would consume roughly 1.5 times the total renewable power produced in 2020 just for vehicular travel.

We would need a huge growth in low-carbon electrical generation just to have power to connect to the charging stations that BBB installs… or a choice between blackouts and stranded motorists, and this ignores the CO2 produced manufacturing and installing that infrastructure. A poor result for a large inflation-fueling expenditure and a big hit in manufacturing carbon emissions.

Are electric cars the proper solution?  Battery minerals are already running in short supply.  Wouldn’t high-speed rail be better for long range travel?  Have we looked at systems that have succeeded like Florida’s rail and people movers in Miami?  Remember it took more than half a century to mess this up. 

Shouldn’t we be working to minimize total additional carbon pollution including the manufacturing carbon cost of infrastructures?  On the other hand, doing nothing is the wrong answer.  These are not Hollywood popularity contests. These are existential questions. Politicians apparently won’t address them unless they become voting issues, and the media is in La-la-land. 

Everyone says we “should listen to the science” regarding climate change, yet no one has asked the scientists “what is the minimum carbon footprint out of this mess?!” 

We need a coherent plan along with low-emission  piecemeal actions, not a shoot-from-the-hip, pollution-generating enterprise aimed at the long term while ignoring short term impacts to the atmosphere.

Denny Rossbach

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