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A-19 rezoning gets nod

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White Rock > Designation is a key component in the master plan

By Arin McKenna

The Los Alamos County Council unanimously approved the rezoning of the A-19 parcel in White Rock Friday afternoon.

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The area next to the visitor center (25.82 acres) will be rezoned to DT-NCO (Neighborhood Center) and the remaining 34.46 acres will be rezoned R-1-5 (Single Family Residential).

The rezoning brings the parcel into compliance with the White Rock Center Master Plan/Economic Development Strategy adopted by the council in June 2008 and provides appropriate districts for the future development of the property.

Requests for Information have been sent out to developers regarding development of the Neighborhood Center parcel, and four responses have come back to the county regarding higher density, mixed-use housing in that area.

A core objective of the White Rock Center Master Plan is to create a viable town center with a public space and retail activity center. The rezoning is designed to foster this type of development in addition to providing a mix of housing options.

White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee Chair Denny Erickson spoke in favor of the rezoning.

“We give you our enthusiastic endorsement of this ordinance and we seek your equally enthusiastic approval,” Erickson said in remarks to the council. “This is the key development area in the White Rock Master Plan. It’s interesting that five years after the adoption of this plan by this county, it remains a plan that is provocative and has total integrity for today’s application.”

The new zoning goes into effect 30 days after publication of notice of its adoption.

Mural Reborn

Council also approved up to $13,000 for the installation of the tile mural titled “Valle Grande and Jemez River” in the new municipal building, which was originally installed in council chambers in the previous municipal building.

The artist, Sam Tubiolo, will perform the installation. Tubiolo’s initial estimate was $18,850 to $21,650, but he revised that downward after receiving more detailed information about the condition of the piece. The Arts in Public Places (APPB) board felt the complexity of the tile installation would benefit from the knowledge and experience of the original artist.

The mural will be installed on the wall adjacent to Conference Room 200 in the new municipal building.

“When we were disemboweling the chamber in the old building, we were afraid this would break up and not be usable again, and so it’s really, really encouraging that they managed to get it down in the proper amount of pieces and have it ready to go back up,” Councilor Frances Berting said. “It’s also fortunate that we have the original artist put it back up as it should be.”

Council also unanimously approved the addition of two provisional members for the APPB. The provisional members will serve for two years to help the board meet an increased work load, which includes placing public art in new facilities, evaluating the 40 responses to its “open call for art” and maintaining liaisons with several other boards.

“We have such an amazing opportunity right now that fell out of all the capital improvement projects to really evolve our town in certain ways. This is money that is going to change our town for the next 20 to 30 years, which is the point of Arts in Public Places. It’s for the long term, and we really need to be thoughtful about it,” Councilor Kristin Henderson said.

The board will now recruit and interview applicants to present to council for approval. The change will be reevaluated at the end of two years to determine if additional members are needed on a more permanent basis.

Tweaks to sign ordinance

Recommendations on revisions to the recently passed sign ordinance also received unanimous approval. Many of the revisions were minor changes in wording.

Council accepted Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations to approve one significant change and reject another.

Schools and churches will now be allowed to have one free standing sign per 300 feet of street frontage instead of just one freestanding sign per location.”

P and Z recommended against a change pursued by Smith’s engineers that would have allowed larger signage in Area 4, which includes the Trinity Site location. The change would have allowed freestanding signs in Area 4 to be to be 20 feet high instead of 15 feet and up to 100 square feet in area.

Smith’s or other developers can seek a waiver of the restriction, but Community and Economic Development Senior Planner Gary Leikness said he had reviewed a preliminary application for Smith’s sign plan and that it conforms to the code.

Leikness also pointed out that the project identification sign allowance (which identifies all businesses within the development) is nearly the size Smith’s requested for its freestanding sign.

Changes to some of the designated areas were also approved.

Jaunt to Russia

Council approved a motion for an unspecified amount of funds to be allocated for the council chair or an alternate to join the Los Alamos Sarov Sister Cities Initiative trip to Sarov in October.

“These trips have been questioned as to their value,” Berting said. “It’s a very useful way of letting both countries know that the other country is a group of normal individuals very much like us. There is an awful lot of government propaganda, particularly against America, and this gives a core group of people the obvious indication that some of that propaganda may not actually be true.”

Council also unanimously passed a resolution in support of UNM-LA’s request for voter approval of a 2 mil increase in the operational mil levy.

The issue comes before the voters in a special election Sept. 17.

A proposal by the Department of Public Utilities to change gas rates from a fixed rate charge to billing for the actual cost of gas was removed from the agenda so council and DPU can have an in depth discussion about the change.

The item will be placed on the agenda for the Aug. 20 work session.

Councilors David Izraelevitz and Rick Reiss were away on travel.