BY JAMES ROBINSON
Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair
Good morning Los Alamos!
Last night the Los Alamos County Council held our regular session.
The night began with a lively discussion to remove the item to introduce changes to the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) ordinance from the agenda. Councilor Sean Williams provided an example of how the use of the LEDA act caught many by surprise with the Marriott deal, and requested more time be dedicated to educating the public and Council about the changes to this act that expand its usage. I supported Councilor Williams initiative, however, the remaining Council voted to keep the introduction on the agenda.
Council then recognized County Manager Harry Burgess for his 10 years of service to Los Alamos and wishing him a happy retirement. I personally thanked Mr. Burgess for answering all my questions even before I was elected to the Council. I also thanked him for his leadership during many difficult periods in Los Alamos over the last decade.
The Council continued the night with a COVID-19 update. Los Alamos Los Alamos continues to be number 1 in vaccination rate per capita across New Mexico. 91.75% of those eligible have signed up to receive the vaccine, 85.8% of those who can get the vaccine receiving their first dose, and 78.1% fully vaccinated. There will be a clinic on June 6 to provide booster shots to those 12 to 15. Chair Ryti also discussed how he expects there will be a press conference next week as the state approaches 60% of its population fully vaccinated.
Next, the Council approved the various items on the Consent Agenda, and then proceeded to introduce several ordinances including the changes to the LEDA ordinance.
The first ordinance adopted was changes to the “Special Recognition” ordinance. I worked with the County Attorney to get this ordinance clarified after some confusion. The proposed changes now make it clear an individual needs to be deceased for several years before a County asset can be named after that person. The old ordinance was interpreted to mean this, but was overall confusing. This change makes it clear. Council adopted these changes.
Additionally, the Council adopted changes to the Fire Code that would align codes for evaluating proposed site plans from developers with those codes used by the Community Development Department. This alignment should make it easier on the developers, and the officials we task with enforcing the codes.
The final ordinance adopted by Council last night was repealing sections of our code that had a municipal violation for cannabis, and brining our code into alignment with the upcoming changes to state law. There was a small discussion about where individuals would be allowed to smoke cannabis. County Attorney Alvin Leiphart discussed how this change only locally decriminalizes cannabis, and the act of smoking is covered under our current nuisance code. I was very happy to support this change. There is much more to come from the state about what our local authority will be with the legalization of cannabis.
Moving on, the Council then appointed members of the community to the Board of Adjustment and Arts in Public Places Board.
Councilors then provided many different reports for our various Boards and Commission assignments. Councilor David Izraelevitz reported to Council that the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities voted to dissolve, and instructed their attorney to begin that process. Councilor Sarah Scott reported that she and Councilor Izraelevitz had an informal conversation with the director of the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District about possibly administering the Progress Through Partnering funds allocated by Council last budget hearing. Councilor Denise Derkacs provided an update from the Historic Preservation Advisory Board about designing a new entrance into the Fuller Lodge Art Center, and discussions with the North Mesa Housing Committee. Councilor Williams provided an update from Parks and Recreation about improvements to the Golf Course and facility use fee policies. Finally, I provided an update about the Board of Public Utilities.
The Council then ended the night the monthly County Manager report.
Some upcoming agenda items the public might want to be aware of:
- On June 8, Council will consider adopting an resolution to create a Metropolitan Redevelopment Area district in White Rock
- On June 15, the Council will receive an update about the Downtown Master Plans
- On June 15, the Council will receive a presentation about LEDA and will hold the public hearing for changes to the ordinance on June 29
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to help!