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Dona Ana County Commission Passes Unified Development Code

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The Dona Ana County Commission passed the Unified Development Code by a vote of 3-2.

The County Commission voted to pass the 450-page Unified Development Code after years of work and hundreds of public meetings. Commissioner Billy Garrett says passing the UDC is the right step for county planning.

“We don’t want a whole lot of change,” Garrett said. “But we do want to have development work better, and I think we’ve got that with the UDC. It provides both greater flexibility, and greater predictability in terms of most of the land that is developable currently in the county.”

Dona Ana County resident, Sharon Thomas, who worked on the UDC says having a set plan and code complete can help encourage development.

“I think it’s going to be an economic turnaround for the whole county,” Thomas said. “I think we have a lot of new projects that are going to come into the county as a result of this and so I’m extremely pleased.”

Commissioners Leticia Benavidez and Ben Rawson voted against passing the UDC, Rawson says passing the UDC was premature and wanted to postpone the vote.

“I don’t believe that the Unified Development Code is ready for implementation,” Rawson said. “And I’m disappointed the Commission is going ahead, implementing it with a 30-day time period. We still don’t have any of the technical documents, any of the guides that we’ve been promised over and over. I still don’t have any of that in front of us to look at.”

Dona Ana County Resident Tom Phillips spoke against passing the UDC; he says residents should have been notified that there would be a zoning change prior to passing the new code.

“The opportunity to postpone it,” Phillips said. “Not redo it completely is what I was promoting. Give more people a chance to be notified, officially, that this is a zoning change. And give them a chance to provide their last input before they vote on it.”

County Staff says the UDC is a living document that can be amended as needed if there are problems in the future.

The Unified Development Code will go into effect 30 days after being formally recorded in the County Clerk’s office.
 

Samantha Sonner was a multimedia reporter for KRWG- TV/FM.