On Wednesday night the Extra-Territorial Zoning Authority or ETA denied the appeal of the decision that rejected commercial zoning near Tortugas mountain. After the 8 hour long public meeting, the 5 ETA members present voted unanimously against changing the decision. A successful appeal would have allowed the property’s owners to build a strip mall on the site.
Dona Ana County Development Staff was the applicant making the appeal. The ETA says staff failed to prove a commercial zoning would be consistent with the comprehensive plan for the area.
They also found that the zoning did not meet the specific criteria of zoning ordinances such as meeting a need for commercial activity in the area or creating economic opportunity to support tourist activity.
The property is located between the City of Las Cruces and the recently designated Organ Mountains Desert Peaks National Monument.
The ETA found that a commercial zoning and development would in fact detract from the economic potential of Tortugas Mountain – which was cited as being a natural gateway to the Organ Mountains monument as well as having its own importance as a historic site and recreational area.
Following the denial of the appeal, Dona Ana County Community development staff could present a case opening the property up to an alternate zoning or resubmit a case for commercial zoning following further research.