- Reinstate verbatim Paragraph Two, Article One, sub paragraphs a. through e. of the El Paso Mountain Committee enabling Ordinance 014790 in order to transfer all the duties previously enjoyed by the El Paso Mountain Committee to the Open Space Advisory Board. [To see the enabling ordinance, go here. To see comment, go here.]
- Apply those duties and expand oversight of the Open Space Advisory Board to projects in the Open Space Master Plan, new Open Space acquisitions, the Mountain Development Areas, and the hill side Development Areas.
- Permit the Open Space Advisory Board to participate in prioritization and budgeting of the Storm Water Fees and other revenue sources allocated for Open Space Projects.
- The Board shall be advisory to the Department of Planning, Research & Development, the City Plan Commission and the City Council.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
In the dust time and the dawningOld Mount Franklin, gaunt and bare,Holds a wondrous compensationFrom the desert's heat and glare.Etched against the blazing skyline,Sunset paling into night,Purple shadows lovely vistasVying with the holden light.Sunset sprays the sky with splendorMount Franklin's topped with glory rare,Slowly dying, crimson shadowsBring the hush of ev'ning prayer.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
- The enabling ordinance of the Open Space Advisory Board does not allow the board to provide any input into the development process to implement the Open Space Plan.
- The Ordinance transferring duties of the Mountain Committee to OSAB removed authority to 'review and comment' creating barriers that block effective input necessary to protect the Planned Mountain Zone.
- The only source for open space funding is 10% of the stormwater fees; yet OSAB is not allowed to review or comment on the budget or expenditures of these monies. Understand that the Storm Water Committee has yet to reconvene and has no fiduciary authority over the fees either. Therefore, no citizen oversight exists for these important quality of life funds.
- Current Ordinances are incapable of persuading developers to preserve open space, eliminate large ponds and cement-lined channels. The City has to rely on handouts from the development community.
- Replace OSAB duties with those from the old Mountain Committees' enabling ordinance to include the review, monitoring and expenditure of open space funding especially stormwater fees.
- Expand duties so that the OSAB has purview not just to open space assets in the Open Space Master Plan and to Planned Mountain Development (as part of the ordinance transferring duties of the Mountain Board to OSAB) but also to the Hillside Development Zone as one City plan suggests.
- Amend the drainage design manual to require submission of alternate drainage plans with the Public Improvement District and Stormwater.
- Amend subdivision code to include standard methods for calculating open space requirements and to quantify 'substantial change' (suggest push-pull type test) that prohibit vesting and require new applications.
"Review and make recommendations on proposed changes of zoning, detailed site development plans, special permits, subdivision plats/replats, land studies, righ-of-way dedications or vacations, and other land development applications received on property within the Mountain Development Area. In its recommendation of these items, special attention shall be given to drainage and flood control, open space requirements, grading impacts, and developmental controls, etc."
- Earlier input in the development process.
- The ability to review and comment at appropriate stages to the CPC, various departments and Council
- Expanded review to all open space categories, Planned Mountain Development Zoning and foothills development
- Inclusion in the budget oversight for the 10% stormwater fee.
Rick,The way it works with the LRC is that they decide if matters need to be forwarded to City Council as a whole, almost like a pre-trial. This is done so that City Council meetings flow more efficiently. Typically, if the Planning LRC wants to take action on an item it will be sent to the City Council to be heard at a general meeting. Then, City Council will direct the City Manager how to proceed with their wishes and she will delegate responsibility to staff. In the event the LRC were to take action on the OSAB item at the LRC, it will not be heard by the entire City Council prior to the OSAB November meeting. (Provided we're not asked to return to the LRC.) Therfore, I think any action from the OSAB on the matter would be pre-emptive. City Council is to dictate to us how to proceed.For the information of the OSAB, I am happy to add a report on the outcome of the 11/19/09 LRC.Maggie,Please add 'Report on the outcome of the Open Space Advisory Board item from the Nov 19, 2009 Planning LRC'
Nanette and Shamori,My concern is that all members of OSAB probably won't make the LRC; further, OSAB members attending the LRC (including myself) can only speak as individuals, as this issue has not been formally discussed by the Board.I think the Board should have the opportunity to hear and act... ie, resolution to let Council know their position, as this is their charge.With all due respect,Please amend the agenda one more time and allow this to move forward as a discussion and action item so the Board can deliver a formal opinion to Council in a timely manner.Thanks for your patience and understanding.Rick
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Last Thursday Hector Montes had Master Naturalist Sal Quintanilla and environmentalist Maria Trunk on his talk show on KHRO, 1150 AM. I had been invited to call in and inform the audience about the planned quarrying next to the State Park. It would seem from the follow-up calls that we got some good coverage.
Gravel Quarry Generates Controversy
A deposit of gravel located on the western slope of the
is the center of controversy. Several city environmental groups point out that Jobe Material’s company practice of extracting minerals from the soil can create serious environmental and health problems in addition to the deterioration of the local landscape. Franklin Mountains
The quarry operation, property of the magnate Stanley Jobe, has a 20 year lease contract on a 480 acre area that belongs to the Texas Permanent School Fund. The property is administered by the General Land Office (GLO). According to GLO press secretary Jim Suydam, the principal motive for leasing to Jobe is simply economic: the purpose of the lease was to collect funds for the School Fund.
Nevertheless, several non-governmental organizations of El Paso expressed their dissatisfaction with Jobe Materials, among them the Sierra Club, headed by Laurence Gibson, who states that the principal problem with this quarry is that Jobe Materials is working on land that is a cultural bastion of the city, besides the fact that there are no guarantees that the environment will not be affected by the excavation.
“The only one responsible is the GLO since this entity does not have any sense of belonging within our habitat and little worries about the local environment”, Gibson declared.
Other organizations such as the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition are also opposed to the quarry and urge the local government and political leaders of the city to relocate Jobe Materials to an area where an important ecosystem will not be harmed.
“The GLO delivered an area that includes arroyo 41A, a treasure that links the
Franklin Mountainsto the which will logically be affected by the quarry. This property is part of the recreation and tourism plan of the city of Rio Grande , but now it is compromised for economic purposes,” said Jim Tolbert, a board member of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, in a written statement. El Paso
El Diario of
tried to obtain a statement from Stanley Jobe but received no response from his office up to the moment this edition closed. El Paso
Despite this disagreement with the location of the quarry, the possibility that it will be relocated are minimal at this time, and presently the only possible recourse is to exercise pressure on Jobe Materials to leave the area the way they found it after completing excavation.
“I am very disappointed by the location of the quarry, it is practically impossible that the area will remain intact, and little by little we are going to see pernicious consequences of this mistake. I believe that there is nothing which can be done and it is lamentable that our environment suffers because of the economic interests of a few”, stated Susie Byrd, District 2 representative of the city, in a telephone conversation.
Stanley Jobe met recently with some members of the Borderland Mountain Bike Association and offered to pay the costs to build new bike trails in the vicinity of the quarry, a move that generated disagreement among participants who think that moving the trail would turn into an ecological fault difficult to correct.
“The impact of this quarry to the environment and the landscape of
is huge. Soon we will begin to see rock accumulation in the sector which will damage the image of our mountains. There is no benefit for the residents of the city. Jobe Materials is destroying the ecological system and nobody is doing anything to prevent it”, stated Dave Wilson, president of the cyclist’s association. El Paso
Monday, November 16, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Here's a picture of what the land next to the Tom Mays Unit of the Franklin Mountains State Park will look like if Jobe Materials quarries on land owned by the People of the State of Texas. The picture is the Cemex Quarry at McKelligon Canyon just off of Alabama Street. It was previously owned by Jobe.
"The City of El Paso's Open Space Master Plan calls for a mountain to river trail using Arroyo 41A, the last unobstructed arroyo connecting the Franklin Mountains to the Rio Grande. This arroyo can provide a unique setting for recreational activities for El Pasoans and visitors as well as maintain important wildlife habitat. Quarrying activities planned on General Land Office leased land adjacent to and including parts of Arroyo 41A threaten the integrity and viability of that trail and a portion of Franklin Mountains State Park. We the undersigned urge our political leaders to work with the quarry operator to prevent quarrying from occurring on land in or adjacent to the planned mountain to river trail and to maintain the original design of this valuable recreational and wildlife corridor."
Why do we want to save javelina and mule deer (not to mention foxes, coyotes, horned toads, ring tail cats, bobcats, snakes and more as well as the plant life native to our Chihuahuan Desert)? A wildlife and environmental expert answered the question this way:
"We as humans are connected to the ecosystem. All parts of the ecosystem have a role to play in the bigger scheme of things. If we eliminate the natural world from our lives and try to survive on an earth dominated by buildings and concrete we simply will not be able to survive. Our connections with nature are too many and too great. And, if the world becomes unsafe for animals and plants, it will not be a safe place for people."
Monday, November 9, 2009
"By 2014, El Paso will be a model of sustainability and smart growth by building on its roots as an international hub, promoting sustainable enterprises and wisely using natural resources."
"Individual City staff may or may not be in favor of "economic development" as exemplified by Jobe and the homebuilders' style of growth. The staff is mainly concerned with staying out of trouble, and the developers can make big trouble if any legal boundaries are crossed."The zoning and subdivision codes are the legal tools that have to be followed. The developers worked very hard to ensure that those codes were "vetted" by their own lawyers, lobbyists and friends before they were adopted by the City. If the land is zoned for whatever the developer wants, the law allows them to do it. If it's not zoned for what they want the law allows them to request a zone change and the Council can grant it."The Open Space plan and the General Land Use Plan are legally just "guides" to decision making by the Council, so they can approve zoning that is not in conformity with the Plans. (There is actually some legal precedent for holding Councils more accountable to such plans, but it is rare in Texas. There may be some precedent on the GLO immunity issue as well, but of course not from Texas.)"Botttom line- the developers have the law on their side in most cases and there is too much apathy to try to change the laws again. (Look at the all the fighting over the subdivision code rewrite last year that resulted in nothing more than some very minor changes.)"