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Plans to put a moving supply store in back of the Pueblo Complex hit a snag recently when a resident objected to the business at a recent Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
Planning and Zoning board members approved U-Haul’s application 8-0 during a March 27 meeting. However, because an objection was raised during the meeting, the county council has to consider the validity of the resident’s objection. That hearing is due to take place sometime in June.
“Planning and Zoning approved the application, subject to appeal,” said Community Development Planner Gary Likeness. “We did receive an appeal, and it will be considered by council.”
The owner of the business, Victoria Work, signed a lease with the owners of the property, the Los Alamos School District last year. She said she is disappointed with the news, and very disappointed with the business climate in Los Alamos in general. She finally thought she had a break when the LAPS came forward and told her they had space available in one of their properties.
“We finally got the Pueblo Complex, where we’re hidden in the back, behind the building. It’s the old ROTC building,” she said. “Now someone has come forward and said she’s chemically sensitive and having the U-Haul trucks there would be detrimental to her health.”
She tried to explain at the Planning and Zoning meeting that they retire the trucks after 100,000 miles and that they do all the oil changes in Albuquerque, but to no avail. “The only thing we do as a dealer is check the window wiper fluid, the antifreeze and wash them. That’s all we’re required to do.”
Work said she thought the business would be really great for Los Alamos, since it would save people a trip for those moving to Los Alamos and alleviate the need to bring their rentals back to her existing, bigger U-Haul complex in Pojoaque, approximately 20 miles away. According to Work, this attempt to expand their business with a location in Los Alamos has been underway since last August.
“If it’s this hard to start a business in Los Alamos, then forget it. Who needs the headache?” Work said. “We already have the business license, the sign permit, and now they tell us no.”
The person raising the objections, Sherry Evans-Carmichael said she has nothing personal against Work or her business. As a resident of Sycamore Street, she said she fears that the increase in traffic coming to and from the Pueblo Complex would aggravate her health problems.
She said she and her daughter had their respiratory health damaged in the Cerro Grande Fire, and ever since then, they have a low tolerance for any kind of pollution. She said one of the reasons they moved to the house on Sycamore Street, across from the Pueblo Complex is to help keep a barrier between them and large amounts of activity that may aggravate their health.
“We needed to give ourselves more distance from our neighbors,” Evans-Carmichael said. “They don’t mean to, but they use chemicals in their yards like herbicides and pesticides in their yards and we can’t tolerate it.”
She said they had already moved in when the county changed the zoning at the complex, so they’re stuck. “I understand that the schools need money, but we object to it because we don’t want to see an increase in traffic over there,” she said. “We don’t want them putting in things that increase pollution in the area. I don’t want to be sick anymore, and we don’t want to be mean, but we are at our limits as to what we can handle when it comes to pollution.”
In the Planning and Zoning minutes, Work said that approximately four vehicles would go in and out of the complex a day, and that the place would be open on the weekends for four hours. Most of what they’d be renting would be trailers, boxes and blankets, Work said.
LAPS own many properties that used to be schools and administrative properties around town.
The program has been described as a “win-win” situation for business owners and the district, since the district leases property at competitive rates and the school gets to use the money to fund educational programs and teacher salaries.
According to Joanie Ahlers, assets manager for the school district, the U-Haul lease would generate $750 a month in revenue for the schools. She also said the district will be watching the appeals process very closely.