On May 9th, representatives of the Pilot/Flying J Corporation gave a presentation on a new proposal to build a Travel Center at the intersection of Rancho Viejo Blvd and NM-14. The meeting was not well publicized and about 60 people from the area attended the meeting. Please see The New Mexican article on May 10 for more details. The following are my personal notes from the meeting and may contain inaccuracies and omissions – use at your own risk. My intent is solely to inform residents that this project proposal is underway.
- Mr. Siebert – Made comment about how a Master Plan becomes invalid after 5 years if development doesn’t take place. Several times during the meeting, they made the point that the area is zoned for this time of development. “Conditional use” requires hearing officer, then planning commission (July?), then County Commissioners (Sep?).
- According to Siebert, per the Santa Fe County Land Development Code, all residents within 500 ft. must be notified by mail (there are a few in the Turquoise Trail Business Park). The SLDC doesn’t require notification signage, but they were “kind enough” to put up a small sign in RV. They thought the meeting was well attended.
- Ross Schaver, Pilot’s Project Engineer treated us to a presentation of how wonderful Pilot is, how they have 600 locations, how wonderful the Haslam family is, and how they also own several fast food chains. They want to create jobs for everyone and increase commercial property values. He claimed that extending the sewer line would accomplish this.
- Pilot is currently building 20 stores per year. They are the largest diesel supplier in the US and and the largest hauler of supplies for the fracking industry. They also own a construction company.
- The “Rancho Viejo Partners” were “approached” by Pilot and the land is now under contract. The parcel is 26 acres split into 3 lots – the travel center will be on a 10 acre site immediately across from Rancho Viejo Blvd on highway 14. There will be one entrance in and out, and the center will include a Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. (The 2 lots will probably be for hotel/retail, like most Pilot Centers.) The project is currently at the “proposal” stage and will go to county hearing officer, Nancy Long, soon.
- The site has perfect infrastructure including power and natural gas. The sewage line may run to a lift station at Gruda Vet Clinic, or the prison system. Water will be County (if they are willing). Doing a “willing and able letter” to County.
- Detention pond will contain all fuel spills, which Pilot will monitor to make sure they comply with all state and county codes. Roof runoff will go to culvert. (When challenged by the audience, Shaver challenged us to do our own testing, because Pilot NEVER pollutes any areas it operates in.)
- Pilot’s traffic engineer is doing study now. The Center will contain 70 semi stalls and they anticipate 300 semi’s per day. They say this is small for them and that there should be no traffic congestion.
- Lighting: all Cree. (They said this as if that will be sufficient to meet codes and not violate night sky restrictions.)
Questions/comments from audience:
- A (female) truck driver in the audience said all 70 stalls will be idling and very noisy. Shaver claims that company testing shows decibels will be low. He went on to say that newer rigs have sound mitigating equipment and ignored her remaining point about older trucks.
- How many jobs? 80-90 jobs. 3 Corporate Managers who will make 6 figures. Everyone else will be local talent. Half will be part time and all will make better than minimum wage.
- The Center will create a $2-3M tax base – gross receipts taxes will take care of roads.
- RV only has 2 exits. How will this enhance home values and how will Pilot alleviate traffic problems? Shaver thinks extended sewer will increase commercial property values. He did not answer how this will increase residential property values.
- How will they control pollution? They have secondary tanks to catch fuel leaks. This goes to the detention pond.
- A homeowner said she can smell the coffee and donuts from thd BLM offices. How will Pilot control diesel smells? Shaver’s answer: “I hope you’ll smell the Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts instead.”
- A former law enforcement officer from the Arizona City area said he and other cops stopped meeting at the the Flying J on I-10 because it became a bottleneck that they couldn’t get out of and it was too noisy for meetings. He said he didn’t move to RV to go through the same thing that AZ City residents are dealing with.
- Emergency Evac plan? Shaver totally denied noise and traffic concerns. Pilot only builds nice, safe facilities that comply with all state and local regulations.
- What about road abuse and damage – who will repair NM-14 and surrounding roads? Ross says there won’t be any and that Pilot follow all state regs re: axle loading.
- How much will taxes increase as a result of increased policing? Shaver says he has a letter from a police chief saying how wonderful Pilot Centers are. Comments about crime at truck stops are untrue generalizations. Most truck drivers are like the nice lady in the audience (she’d left) and just want to make an honest living. A resident objected saying she researched crime stats on Travel Centers and that Shaver’s statement was uninformed.
- Where else did you consider? Pilot’s real estate group looked for 2 years until they found this spot. They have plans for 3-5 more from here to Denver.
- Next Step? Planning Officer will review proposal to see whether it meets codes, etc., then on to County Planning Commission.
If you would like to voice your opinion to our County Commissioner, Ed Moreno, he can be reached at 505-986-6210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The July Board Meeting was a mixed bag. It was cordial, but after a statement by Pres. Paiz that this board gets along well and he doesn’t anticipate any more resignations, Director Corbin read a list of grievances on how she was being treated by other board members. These issues included:
- No board communications with Director Corbin since April. Meanwhile, the “no emails between mtgs” policy was violated by two other directors.
- Directors Corbin and Bailey were left out of two meetings which could have been rescheduled. She believes that personality conflicts and lack of common business consideration are factors. [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer were also left out of board meetings during their terms.]
- After calling Atty Krupnik, she didn’t receive a call back; the Association Attorney should be supporting all directors. [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer received similar treatment during a previous term.]
- Dir. Thompson cut her out of Neighborhood Watch communications, wouldn’t allow her to be the Treasurer, and didn’t post two requested notices. Note: NW is an organization separate from HOA management.
- Five directors blocked her from the dispute resolution meeting that removed Jim Bailey from the presidency. Pres. Paiz claimed this was out of the board’s control because the Atty recommended it. [Directors Buhl and Pfeifer received similar treatment during a previous term.]
- BOD Meeting scheduling should allow all residents to attend. Dir. Corbin does not think the board should treat some residents less well than others; they need to stop preventing residents from serving on Committees when they are capable and willing.
It appears to this former director that the Association Attorney continues to run our HOA. It’s way past time for the board to resolve old conflicts, end the power plays and resignations, follow the bylaws, and include all directors in decision-making. Doing otherwise is unprofessional and expensive.
Other Meeting Highlights:
- Pres. Paiz. agreed to alternate daytime and evening meetings – and change which day because of the fire department’s schedule, if nevessary.
- Barbara Boyd resigned to pursue retirement goals. Her vacancy will not be filled, despite M. Kaplan being next in number of votes during the election.
- Per Vince Montoya, new HOAMCO software is causing problems with website.
- Infrastructure: seal coat is done. Final pmt pending. Question over price of oil and impact on quote. Windmill Ridge 2 quote was over 150K. Need other bids. Planning for next June/July. Paying out of reserves, but fee increase expected. Budget & Finance Comm looking at it.
- Chris Schatzman and Bruno are negotiating with Ranchland Utilities. Aging, maintenance, operations, and pond are issues. Spending money on upgrades – we have to maintain filters and lines that HOA is responsible for. Inoperable valves are being repaired.
- Financials thru June – irrigation and landscaping expenditures are impacting budget. Reserves decreased $60K from pavement preservation. $93K lower in total cash and A/R, operating account, plus reserve expenditures. Balance sheet is within parameters. Income slightly ahead of budgeted because of billing cycle. Expenses better than last month. Net Income at a loss (1933.93), but improving – running behind last year. Delinquencies were previously 113K – down to 95K. [This is up from $60-80K in previous years.]
- Landscaping: Had an ABQ company look at irrigation clocks to better understand system. Filters were compacted from pond algae blooms. RU says pond is HOA resp. Really affects WR 4. Pressure dropped to 20 psi – couldn’t run pop-ups. Asked RU to boost to 35 – they refused. Unexplained lack of water in mid-July turned out to be failed pump motor. Repairs/shut-offs mean street-scapes not getting water; RU installing variable drives. Water Buffalo planned for stressed trees in WR4 and spine park. Chair Trujillo asked for money for add’l cleaning of filters. Installing gravel at Panther Peak park. B&F Committee approved. Per resident, Heads-Up removed a tree at end of Chili Line – suggested replacing with xeric plants.
- Safety Comm: recent bobcat sitings.
- DRC: no issues.
- Communications: saved $4K. New newsletter format. Donna Naes solicits articles from residents. Defined “Ex-Officio”. Committee of one is a committee.
- Town Homes: new driveways. Going to meet every other month. Budget OK. Pigeons still an issue.
- Neighbor to Neighbor Food Drive motion introduced by Dir. Thompson. Heads-Up would drop off grocery bags at front doors – HOAMCO would pay for bags. Concern over absent owners and potential crime. North decided against because they didn’t want to set a precedent for other groups. No second on motion – died.
- Donna Naes application for Communications Committee was accepted.
- Glen Smerage asked why people keep resigning from board. Pres. Paiz said that people don’t understand time commitment and sometimes personalities don’t meld well; this board gets along well and he doesn’t anticipate more resignations.
- Discussion about RV Blvd and NE/SE Connector – up to County and State. Funding is an issue.
- Annie McGovern asked to reconsider gravel at Panther Peak because of safety and liability issues. Schools do not use gravel. Also creates hot spot.
In summary, the good news is that the board, committee chairs, and HOAMCO are making progress on infrastructure and repairs. The not-so-good news is the price tag and its impact on reserves. Assessment increases are certainly in our future.
This is a very tricky subject, so first let me say that I think Jim Bailey will make a good Treasurer. Let me say further that I believe him to be a fairly ethical person despite some of the things he has said about me on public blogs. He also has the kind of folksy friendliness to get along with the other directors and probably will make a good president. He gave a committee report at the Annual Meeting that was witty, informative (especially in sharing delinquent account data), and could have been better if it had been a bit shorter.
Jim has my best wishes for success whether he needs them or not. After being on the board for two years, I know that serving this community is no easy task.
I also know that all across the country, when HOA’s get into trouble with financial misdeeds (not saying we are), it is often the President who is found guilty, especially if granted access to HOA cash or funds. Most boards of directors, HOA or otherwise, do not allow the fearless leader to also “handle the books” – at least, not without further checks and balances. It is very puzzling that out of seven board members, no one else volunteered or was nominated to be president, so that Jim could concentrate on being Treasurer. Since no one else obviously felt comfortable volunteering to be Treasurer, I hope the rest of the directors and HOAMCO are up to the task of providing helpful oversight, since they ALL have fiduciary responsibility for the Association (no matter what letters they have – or not – after their last names).