By T.S. Last

Town councilors on Monday approved updates to design standards that affect subdivisions, new developments and redevelopment in Bernalillo.

Their unanimous approval establishes the standards as a standalone ordinance, establishing penalties for violations and fees.

In separate action following that vote, the council then set fees for subdivisions with what Planning and Zoning Director Stephanie Shumsky a “conservative” increase.

Shumsky said the new ordinance repeals the standards the town previously operated under. The new version updates definitions and makes language consistent with those mentioned in zoning laws, which she said was a problem with the old ordinance. 

Shumsky said the ordinance covers such things as street signs and stop sign standards, “exciting things like that… but very important.”

Shumsky said the creating the ordinance for design standards was a team effort with the Public Works department.

“I think it will see the town into the future,” she said.

Mayor Jack Torres asked Shumsky if she was comfortable with the fee schedule that applied to subdivisions. It called for an increase in the filing fee from $200 to $300, plus the cost of notification.

“I always look to see what communities around the town are doing. Our fees are pretty much in alignment; they are less than Rio Rancho,” she said.

Shumsky said the fees were comparable to what they are in Corrales and Los Lunas.

She said a change from the repealed ordinance is that the cost of notification to neighbors is shifted to the applicant.

“I’m good with that because I know it costs a lot to send out those certified letters, especially if you have a large number of letters,” the mayor said. “To me, it’s only fair that someon’es who is going through, say, a subdivision, covers that cost.”

Cop Recruitment

The council also approved a resolution that through state legislation provides the town with $281,000 for retention and recruitment of police officers.

Police Chief Chris Stoyell said Bernalillo applied for the second wave of state-funding granted last year through Home Bill 68. By then, there was less money available.

“Unfortunately, the pot kinda shrunk,” he said.

It was also unfortunate that the funding only applies to the retention and recruitment of certified officers. That means the funding can’t be used to recruit new officers.

The legislation provides officers with a retention bonus provided they agree to stay with the department for one year.

The chief said the town now has 23 certified officers.

Wastewater Project

The town council discussed a proposed ordinance that would authorize the town to enter into an agreement with the New Mexico Loan Fund for the purpose of making wastewater improvements.

Described as a $1.5 million loan/grant opportunity, the town would have access to $860,000 at a 0.1% interest rate.

The money would be used for the design portion of the $16.5 million project.

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