Neither Right Nor Smart

Los Alamos is a small unincorporated town. We don’t have our own elected government. We depend on county officials. We pay property taxes just like other county residents, and we expect fair and responsive treatment by these agencies.

Recently, however, a Planning and Development (P&D) issue came to the fore after laying dormant for about two decades. Back then, the county ceded all responsibility for the maintenance of a two-block stretch of road here. We didn’t ask for it. They placed financial responsibility for road upkeep entirely in the laps of the adjoining homeowners.

While 18 homeowners pay annual dues for these repairs, we are more than welcoming to pedestrians, joggers, bike riders, and dog walkers from all parts of town. All may enjoy this quiet and safe neighborhood.

Today, P&D is moving ahead with a developer’s profitable plan that would add as many as 11 new homes on an adjoining acre-and-a-half lot. The county has granted him the right of access to our private road. A county permit for his lot plan would greatly increase traffic here. It would raise the risks of accident and injury, reduce the safe and peaceful enjoyment of the road by us and our neighbors in town, and result in higher costs to us for road maintenance.

It may be that P&D is able to do this within existing zoning and planning rules. But it is not the right or smart thing to do; there is another road that could provide access for the developer. Planners ought to steer the outcome in this sound and responsible direction.

Instead, they first ignored a one-lane bottleneck. Then they tried to minimize its risks to safety because acknowledging it would complicate their aim to push forward with an ill-considered plan.

It seems to many here that county bureaucrats have been rigid, programmatic, occasionally arrogant and obfuscatory. Isn’t it time for a reappraisal and a sensible result?

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