The Taos News from Taos, New Mexico on February 12, 1998 · Page 8
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The Taos News from Taos, New Mexico · Page 8

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Taos, New Mexico
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Thursday, February 12, 1998
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Page 8
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A8 THE TAGS NEWS Thursday, Feb. 12,1998 ^Environment department feives landfill another year • Extra time allows for Completion of study 6y Mike Stauffer the Taos News • The Tbwn of Taos and its fellow Intergovernmental Council (3GC) members were granted an extra year to close the Taos Municipal Landfill — more than enough time to keep it open. ; Town manager Gus Cordova was notified Monday (Feb. 9) that the New Mexico Environment Department has extended the landfill closure deadline from June 30, 1999, to April 30, 2000. • "This is very significant," Cordova told the mayor and council in a memo, "in that the members of the IGC will continue to save in the operational costs of the new landfill for an additional 10 months, and it will give us more time in which to construct the new regional landfill." But Mayor Fred Peralta told the council Tuesday (Feb. 10) the bird study at the landfill is completed and that he expects approval of a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration that would allow the existing landfill to be transformed into the new regional landfill. IGC efforts to locate a new landfill site were stymied by neighborhood groups, while transforming the existing landfill into a regional site meant approval from the FAA. FAA regulations require a distance of at least 10,000 feet between airports and landfill sites because large birds could potentially pose a hazard to approaching aircraft. Landfills notoriously attract birds for feeding and could draw those birds into the existing flight paths of aircraft. The town landfill is located 8,500 feet away from the Taos airport. The IGC, which also includes Taos County, Taos Pueblo, the villages of Questa, Taos Ski Valley, Eagle Nest and Angel Fire and the town of Red River, hopes the year-long bird study at the landfill will convince the FAA that the airport and the landfill can peacefully co-exist. It will cost IGC members and their constituents approximately $3.5 million to permit a new landfill and $300,000 to $500,000 a year to operate it. If the landfill doesn't have to move, it will cost about $1 million less. The permitting process will take approximately four months. Juveniles arrested after break-in Mike Stauffer 3 Taos News 'r Two Taos 16-year-olds, caught by Taos police Jan. 31 while ransacking a Taos residence, were released "under certain conditions" while awaiting preliminary inquiry, according to Rey Garcia, chief juvenile probation officer. [- Garcia said Tuesday (Feb. 10), following the inquiry which will include their parents, the case involving Antonio Mondragon and Manuel Montez-Trujillo will be referred to the District Attorney's office. JL" According to the report filed by Sgt. Paul Qastillo, he and Lt. Ronald Montez were dispatched to a residential burglary. i At the time of the call, Castillo was at the Taos High School parking lot taking a vehicle burglary report involving the break-in of a number of vehicles during a basketball game. ~ Castillo said that as he walked up to the resilience, "I observed that the south window was b'roken and I heard a lot of noise inside as if sjomeone was destroying the residence." ? Castillo said that after he observed two male subjects inside, "I then withdrew my firearm out df the holster and yelled, 'Police, don't move,' they both ran towards the living room area." Both officers then ran to the back of the house. Castillo said he ran to the south window, pulled the curtain open and met Montez-Trujillo attempting to jump out of the window. Castillo handcuffed Montez-Trujillo as he climbed out the window. "I could hear other windows breaking where ... Mondragon was trying to exit out of the residence, but Lt. Ronald Montez was running and waiting for him at the windows he was breaking," Castillo said. Mondragon ran north but was later caught by officer David Maggio. When Montez-Trujillo's parents arrived at the police department, they said the jacket their son was wearing was not his. Montez-Trujillo said he had found the jacket, but Castillo said Friday (Feb. 6) the jacket belonged to the owner of a car burglarized earlier while parked on Randall Lane. Mondragon was reportedly found with a wallet containing a driver's license belonging to a female Taos High School student. The wallet was taken when the car, parked at the high school during the game, was burglarized. Castillo said the charges the two face could include residential burglary, felony criminal damage to property, evading and eluding police and possession of stolen property. Singeli Agnew Campaigning in civics class Gubernatorial candidate Martin Chavez explains the workings of the Legislature to a class full of students in Paul Valerie's government and civics class at Taos High School Friday (Feb. 6). Chavez, Albuquerque's former mayor and a former New Mexico state senator, has been on the road around New Mexico for the past several weeks in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor. Reynolds, DiCicco agree to mediation Michael Reynolds, the creator of the Earthship communities near Taos, and David DiCicco, planning director for Taos County, have agreed to discuss their differences through a mediator. The two have tentatively agreed to sit down Wednesday (Feb. 18) with a mediator, another person of Reynolds' choosing and another person of DiCicco's choosing. The mediator, not selected yet, must be approved by both DiCicco and Reynolds. Reynolds has been at odds with the county since June, when DiCicco withheld building permits from some members of The Greater World community west of the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. Reynolds and the members took the county to task and to court over the building permits. Both sides are waiting for a final decision from Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Stan Read in the case. His decision is expected in March. DiCicco believes Reynolds should go through the subdivision application process and that variances are a way to get approval for the unique energy, sewage and water collection systems at the Earthship communities. Reynolds believes his communities are not subdivisions, since no land is sold. People who buy memberships in any of the three Earthship communities purchase a right to build a home in the community. fd they both ran toWds 'the Hvtag^ = =^3^T^, e ' U " mB P "™ ^TMcST.5 STifSSSLIEiS' ** £ "'" " h ° me ™ *" ™" parthship members file complaints with AG's office Sy Staci Matlock of the self-sustaining homes. —— ___ , j „„„„.. , ^ t u_ «___!. «...,. , ^ — . Staci Matlock the Taos News B| Six more members of Earthship communities near Taos have filed qpmplaints with the state Attorney General's office against founder Michael Reynolds and his company, Solar Survival Architecture. That brings to seven the complaints filed since 1995 against Reynolds and SSA. The complaints, most of them filed by members of the Earthship community. Star, focus on ownership and business practices. They claim Reynolds, as initiator of the communities, is failing to live up to obligations made to early members, and that SSA staff and Reynolds have engaged in fraudulent business practices. Reynolds and members of his current SSA staff say the complaints represent less than 5 percent of the total number of Earthship community members and clients helped in the last 30 years since the first tire home and off-the-grid Earthship was constructed. Reynolds said SSA attempted to address at least the business concerns in a July 1996 booklet called "The Earthship Menu," which details what an owner/builder should expect and where the pitfalls art in building one of the self-sustaining homes. Pam Freund, who worked for Reynolds from 1990-94 as an architectural intern; Jon Schulz, a former systems engineer with Lockheed Martin in Denver; Suzanne P. Martin, a tenured professor at a northern California university; and Rachel Winkler, a single mother, are all Star members who filed complaints with the consumer division of the AG's office. Beverly Fung, who owns an Earthship in Santa Fe, Reach member J.P. Townsend and Patricia Rogers, a former member from The Greater World, also filed complaints. The Star members are concerned that the original bylaws they signed between 1^93 and 1995 have been changed by Reynolds. The original bylaws would have "rolled out" approximately 1,100 acres of Star land around the Carson reservoir, currently under Reynolds' name, to the community's members. Members would then co-own and manage the community. Reynolds changed the bylaws last year and will now turn over ownership when the community is "90 percent developed," he said. "Members who bought in years ago understood they would own all the land in common five years after 'I wasn 't buying a membership just to squat on Mike Reynolds' property.' — Jon Schulz the community began," Schulz said. "I wasn't buying a membership just to squat on Mike Reynolds' property." Reynolds said it is clearly stated even in early bylaws that he is the "initiator" and can "evolve" the bylaws as he sees fit. He's concerned that if he turns over the land and future people who build Earthships at STAR make mistakes, he'll still be blamed. Reynolds said he's addressing the issue by redesigning documents to make Star members feel "more secure." Reach, the 50-acre Earthship community in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, will be deeded over to members of the Reach Land Users Association by next week, Reynolds said. Some of the AG complaints charge that Reynolds and SSA mishandled funds and made promises that weren't kept. They also accuse Reynolds of underestimating the cost of building the Earthships! Claire Blanchard, who has worked for Reynolds for seven years, said it would be hard to find any contractor with^SO years experience in Taos that didn't have at least as many complaints. "No company anywhere in the world has 100 percent satisfaction from their clients," Blanchard wrote in a letter. "It is a phenomenon of human existence." Most of the complainants, like all Earthship members, are considered owner/builders, which places certain responsibilities on them which are not expected if a contracting crew is hired to do an entire home. Still, they feel those responsibilities were not clearly spelled out. A review of owner/builder contracts given to four people in the last three years reveal that SSA has changed some practices which led to current complaints. Up to a year ago, owner/builders were given estimates on construction costs and asked to set up a construction account, usually at Centinel Bank, from which SSA could withdraw funds. Now, a construction estimate is fixed, and there is no mention of a construction fund in the contracts. According to the Attorney General complaints, a mediation report, letters from SSA and to SSA and interviews with people who filed the complaints feel they've tried to resolve issues with Reynolds before filing complaints, without result. Reynolds said he recognizes that his radical approach to everything from sustainable housing to "cooperative communities" has landed him in trouble. Some of that he accepts as natural in developing something new, some he sees as personal persecution, some as his fault. But he steadfastly maintains he is trying to make the process of building a self- sustaining home simpler and cheaper. "To build a conventional home you would consult a realtor, architect, contractor, banker, title company, well driller and surveyor," he said. "You'd probably end up mad at one or two. I've become all those things with these communities, so I'm the only one to get mad at. I tried to make people take responsibility as owner/ builders and that hasn't always worked." REDEEM THIS COUPON FOR $75.OO '»»• mmm^^ ^HBWB •^^•i BI^MR The new frontier of TV entertainment! » Taos & Red RivcR © fagd RRC ® Qucstu & CCRRO ® Amalia © AKS Hondo 1/2 PRICC CDeals CveRy CUednesday acchc H ionlandeR ^R^firniii? 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