County again tables decision on La Bajada mesa mine

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 7:30 pm | Updated: 7:22 am, Wed Aug 13, 2014.

A collective groan was heard from the crowd in the Santa Fe County Commission chamber on Tuesday when commissioners came out of a closed-door session and, for the second time, postponed a decision on a proposed 50-acre basalt mine on La Bajada mesa south of Santa Fe.

Reactions from people at the meeting were swift and angry. “I am shocked and I am horrified,” said Diane Senior, a Madrid resident who has been highly involved in the fight against the proposed mine. “We deserve a vote. This should not have been taken into a private meeting to discuss. They’ve had two months to consider this.”

Subscription Required

An online service is needed to view this article in its entirety. You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



You must login to view the full content on this page.

Thank you for reading 5 free articles on our site. You can come back at the end of your 30-day period for another 5 free articles, or you can get complete access to the online edition for $2.49 a week. If you need help, please contact our office at 505-986-3010 You need an online service to view this article in its entirety.

Have an online subscription?

Login Now

Need an online subscription?



Rules of Conduct

  • 1 No Alias Commenters must use their real names.
  • 2 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 3 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. and please turn off caps lock.
  • 4 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Mark Ordonez posted at 9:00 am on Thu, Aug 14, 2014.

    marcoordonez Posts: 974

    A friend of a friend e-mailed all of the Commissioners yesterday. Only one replied if you want to call it that. Liz Stephanics reply was along the lines of , well, maybe other people should run for the job and after a follow up about he non answer to the question why they tabled it again, her assistant replied that if she answered the question why they tabled the decision, she would have to recuse herself from voting.

  • Fred Stokes posted at 4:55 pm on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    fredstokes Posts: 116

    It's a big gravel pit. It requires a zoning change which everyone opposes. It's economic impact is negligible. Yet the Commissioners unanimously do nothing and say nothing.

    They owe us an explanation. Their silence damns them.

  • Raymond McQueen posted at 4:06 pm on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    Raymond II Posts: 14

    In light of the gross neglect on the part of the Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners, the half-hearted staff analysis (all county departments) of the Rockology application and the long-term land speculation of Buena Vista Estates and its contractor/leasee Rockology/Buildology, I would passionately recommend that the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Santa Fe Reporter undertake a rigorous 4th estate investigation into the history of the La Bajada land parcel; how it currents owners acquired it; the nature and timing of contracts between the owners and Rockology/Buildology; the ongoing marketing of the property; and the many government players in this current application debacle. Your readers deserve to know the truth.

  • Joseph Hempfling posted at 3:31 pm on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    joehempfling Posts: 416

    In light of "presented" factual evidence in this "legal" proceeding under Oath, and noticing in two recent SFNM articles, despite "the County Development Review Committee recommending DENIAL of the mining application", that "Staff has recommended APPROVAL" of an application which violates the basic requirements on all pertinent counts, especially confirmation of access to water for the 25 life of this project, it BEGS the bigger question of WHO are these unnamed "Staff," and if there are reasons for recommendation of approval, WHY have they not been presented as supporting evidence in this "legal" proceeding for the Public to hear?

    For our County Commissioners to spend this much time deciding the merits of a permit application in gross non-compliance without any environmental, or archeological impact studies, especially after testimony by surrounding local Pueblos as to their concern about preserving sacred ceremonial sites, and expert testimony as to the loss of jobs by other local aggregate companies that have already have an admitted oversupply of aggregate, and with an expected "almost ZERO" return of gross receipts, with this property listed for sale on the international market for aggregate use PRIOR to receipt of a permit change from residential/agricultural zoning, where the property owner, once again a no show to the proceedings, WE CITIZENS must ask what larger agenda may be behind the money politics in New Mexico that apparently wants this project affirmed, despite the significant negative aspects that have been clearly stated and entered for the
    supposedly "open" and legal" record.

  • greg catanach posted at 2:46 pm on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    gcddd3 Posts: 3

    What's the hold up commissioners? The SF Canyon ranch deal only took a half hour to decide! Oh right look what that got the county residents, nevermind!

  • greg catanach posted at 2:42 pm on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    gcddd3 Posts: 3


  • Philip Taccetta posted at 12:18 pm on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    PhiltheElder Posts: 320

    Whether or not they have to or not, when the decision is made each and every commissioner should have to stand up and tell the public how they vote.

  • Jay Baker posted at 8:52 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    jdbaker188 Posts: 63

    "He said the mine applicants have failed to prove who owns the mineral rights at the site and have failed to obtain water rights as required by the code."

    Where are County Utilities Director, Claudia Borchert, and Public Works Director, Adam Leighland, hiding? This is an item that they should have addressed.

    Due to their negligence, I call for their resignations or terminations.

    Let's get the County in a transparent and productive state.

  • judith Jenkins posted at 8:45 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    highfeather Posts: 2

    I have contacted NMFOG by email early this morning. There's a big fox in this little henhouse somewhere.

  • Jay Baker posted at 8:35 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    jdbaker188 Posts: 63

    "The County Development Review Committee recommended against the zoning application. County staff recommended approval."

    Why is the County Growth Management Director, Penny Ellis-Green, pushing her staff so hard to be soft and non-responsive in their analysis of Rockology's application? Why have other County Department Directors such as Adam Leighland and Robert Greigo joined to have their staff's "analysis" of the application be so non-responsive?

    What's in it for each of these people and the current County Manager, Katherine Miller? I ask for an investigation of the County review process and that the Board of County Commissioners consider replacing these individuals.

    Let's do what's right for the environment and our future generations!

  • Lawrence Leichtman posted at 7:57 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    lleichtman Posts: 13

    At the earliest possible election period every one of these commissioners should be removed. Their work on this case is reprehensible and irresponsible to the voters of this community.

  • Philip Taccetta posted at 7:51 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    PhiltheElder Posts: 320

    The applicants were there for the hearing - but they knew something no one else did. Many of us went to lunch and came back to hear the decision but Hooper, Seibert, and Dominici (those representing Rockology) did not come back. What did they know that the public didn't?
    When Hooper spoke, he gave answers that defy logic. He claims on one hand that he will create 7 full time jobs, on the other hand when asked about dust/light/noise pollution "we'll only be operating 2 or 3 months a year." "If we don't provide this "high quality basalt", someone else will have to truck it in." Would that require more fuel or traffic than trucking in thousands and thousands gallons of water and then trucking out their product? At a previous hearing he said that the location is ideal to provide product to Santa Fe and Albuquerque - yesterday he only talked about the needs of Santa Fe. In addition he totally discounted the quality of the 1.3 MILLION TONS of basalt at Caja Del Rio. That is basalt that has to be removed to create a "hole" for the land fill - besides the sale of that basalt helps cover some of the land fills operating expenses.

    Come on BCC, we're talking about basically a change of zoning that has THOUSANDS of people against it. It seems like a "no brainer".

  • punkster posted at 6:35 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    punkster Posts: 22

    Sure does make one wonder ..what's in it for certain commissioners who are willing to go down in long history for giving their constituents the shaft. And who are they?

  • Gary Cascio posted at 6:30 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    garycascio Posts: 28

    I would urge those that were in attendance to review the information found at the website "New Mexico Foundation for Open Government" (http://nmfog.org) to see if any state laws were broken by the commissioners going into closed session.

    It seems to me our commissioners are not representing the interests of those that live in the county. This should be remembered when election time comes. We need commissioners that reflect our values.

  • Carolyn Garcia-Martinez posted at 9:13 pm on Tue, Aug 12, 2014.

    CarolynDM Posts: 561

    WTH is wrong with you commissioners? Do what's right and vote NO!!! Are you waiting for more to come under the table? What is the hold up? You know what the citizens that elected you want, and that is who you're supposed to be representing. DO YOUR FREAKIN' JOB!

  • Peter Neal posted at 7:05 pm on Tue, Aug 12, 2014.

    PeterNeal Posts: 640

    Whatever their real motives may be, the Commissioners appear to be trying to "wear down" public opposition to the mine - in the same way a defense attorney repeatedly tries to delay a criminal trial, hoping that witnesses either dissappear or have issues with recollecton.
    However, when time comes foe re-election of these Commissioners, methinks many voters will have real good "recollection".

  • Raymond McQueen posted at 3:58 pm on Tue, Aug 12, 2014.

    Raymond II Posts: 14

    Oops, that was Cochiti - sorry Governor!

  • Raymond McQueen posted at 3:57 pm on Tue, Aug 12, 2014.

    Raymond II Posts: 14

    This is just egregious! The issue could have been put to rest early today after the very first eloquent presentation of the Honorable Governor of Chiti Pueblo.

    I furthermore I find it that after the many and varied issues raised by the commissioners themselves and numerous public organizations, case manager Jose Larranaga persists in his recommendation of conditional approval of this application pending bonding and a "Master Plan" for all three parts. He and his team have obvious failed to properly vet almost all the issues and have done a woefully inadequate job of due diligence on this application. I just went to the marketing website to find Steve Hooper's (of Buildology/Rockology) letter of October 10, 2003 ( more than 10 years ago) as part of the current marketing package in which he extols the virtue of the Waldo Aggregate Geology for the extractive purposes his company now hopes to extract for the listed sellers. The case manager gives little import to this ongoing marketing strategy for a tract of land that is zoned otherwise.

    Obviously, there must be other financial/political issues at play here for this Commission to continue to thwart the voice of the county citizens.

  • Steve Salazar posted at 3:37 pm on Tue, Aug 12, 2014.

    Steve Salazar Posts: 1431

    If we do what our contributors want, we will have a hornet's nest of mad citizens, if we do what the citizens want, we get no contributions, what a catch 22.

  • Joseph Hempfling posted at 3:17 pm on Tue, Aug 12, 2014.

    joehempfling Posts: 416



Follow The Santa Fe New Mexican

Click to read the eNewMexican edition

View the digital replica of today's Santa Fe New Mexican.

Click to read the digital edition of Pasatiempo

View an exact replica of the latest edition of Pasatiempo magazine.