Will our new code have enough green

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The city of Tucumcari has hired a consultant to help it revise the city’s ordinances regarding development. That’s a good idea –  because those ordinances can have a lot to do with what Tucumcari can become.

The city has good spaces – good bones. It also appears that the community has a set of mind that wants to the city to become to an attractive town. Consider the investment that’s already been made to be become a MainStreet project, a state-approved redevelopment assistance plan for re-growing the downtown area.

The ordinances are being rewritten by the urban design and planning firm, Consensus Planning of Albuquerque. The ordinances – which are now being called the “Unified Development Code” –were reviewed on April 5 by the Tucumcari City Commission and the Planning Commission.

During this first round of review of the code rarely was the word “green” or “xeriscape” mentioned.

Several commissioners mentioned that they wanted the city to be developer friendly.
Yet, there was no mention of what should be required of developers that would make our town attractive. For example, some cities now say that if a restaurant or shopping center is built that it is required to have a certain amount of green space for every so many parking spaces.

While it may seem “developer un-friendly,” at this point in Tucumcari’s efforts to gain new businesses and housing, it may be more difficult later to interject these types of requirements.

At the least, city planners and officials may want to consider phasing in these type of requirements based on the passage of time, population growth or, say, the number of square feet of commercial space.

First Street used to have a boulevard look and feel with trees and yuccas lining its center median. Now, it’s become an anywhere USA street.

Still, Tucumcari has good bones. They include numerous parks, a system of alleyways and wide streets. Our alleyways – something that developers in some urban centers have spent millions of dollars to create –  mean that our garbage cans don’t litter front yards for pickup and utility lines and poles are lined up along our backyards.

There’s also a tradition that many of our cities, such as Santa Fe and Albuquerque, draw from:
That’s the Laws of the Indies, signed in 1573 by King Phillip II of Spain. Those laws told the Spanish colonists how best to build their settlements .. “in an elevated and healthy location ” … “with plenty of land for farming and pasturage”… “have fuel, timber, and resources” … “fresh water” .. “buildings all of one type for the sake of the beauty of the town”…“within the town, a commons (plaza) shall be delimited … where people may go for recreation” ….

And after the northern Spanish colonies, like New Mexico, became part of the United States, The Laws of the Indies remained influential in creating land ordinances that organized the mile square grid, townships, sections, and other things.

And those ancient laws have continued to serve … providing an example often
copied in the design guidelines used today in many American cities.

And with the thoughtful reevaluation of the city’s ordinances –  and the assistance of King Phillip II – Tucumcari could become greener, more beautiful, and more welcoming … Tucumcari.

Chelle Delaney is associate publisher of the Quay County Sun. She can be reached by calling 461-1952 or by emailing: chelle_delaney@link.freedom.com