Who owns roads in Montoya?

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The Quay County Commission will be seeking the advice of the New Mexico attorney general about the legal action needed to vacate roads and parts of townships that were incorporated in the early 1900s.

“Something (the roads) was given to the public and somebody has to say the public doesn’t want it any more,” said Albert J. Mitchell, Jr. at Monday’s Quay County Commission meeting.

The decision to seek the attorney general’s advice came up in a discussion with Mitchell, an attorney for the T-4 Ranch, owned by the Bidegain family of Quay County. Mitchell explained that the T-4 will be asking in the future to bring part of the property it owns – in the town of Montoya – under one umbrella. However, intertwined among the property the T-4 owns are public roads and several small parcels that are owned by other individuals.

A letter from the county’s attorney Don Schutte, however, questioned whether or not the county had the authority to give over the roads.

Mitchell explained the T-4’s property is a series of lots which did have, at one time, roads that were in the town of Montoya.

Legally, as part of the process, Mitchell said the roads probably need to be vacated by the county or there needs to be a ruling from the attorney general about how to proceed in the legally proper manner.

Mitchell said certified letters had been sent to the other property owners. As of Monday, however, Mitchell said property owners had not shown any objection or had not responded to the notices from his office.

So far, Mitchell said, “the only people who are concerned are two lawyers, Don (Schutte) and myself.”

Because the state laws are unclear as how to proceed in such a request, Franklin McCasland, commission chair, said it would be best to write and request an opinion from the attorney general.

Mitchell said Quay County and other rural counties in New Mexico probably face similar circumstances. There are many small towns, like Montoya, where the majority of their residents have moved and the towns are no longer thriving communities. As result, parts of the towns have often been purchased by adjacent farmers and ranchers.

In a another matter, also concerning roads, landowner Jerry Bradley withdrew his petition to have Quay Road 44 permanently closed.

Another landowner with property adjacent to the road requested that the road be opened and that the gate be removed for access.

Bradley had made his request based on the approval of an earlier commission’s action.

The current commission said they were not sure that the action approved by an earlier commission was legally binding.

In the meantime, a gate on QR 44 is currently keeping cattle from entering the road.
County manager Richard Primrose said that the state and the county were going to install a cattle guard and that would allow the road to be left open.

In other business before the commission:

• Quay County fire marshal Donald Adams reported that several rural fire stations were exploring plans to up their status from a sub-station to a main station and that several others were exploring plans to create sub-stations in areas of the county to improve firefighting capacity.

Adams also talked to the commission about creating incentives to get more volunteer firefighters.

“We’re having a hard time getting the number of volunteer firefighters,” Adams said. “The average age is 56.”

Borrowing an idea from New York, Adams asked about bringing up the idea of giving volunteers a property tax break to state Rep. Brian Moore, R-Clayton. Tax Assessor Janie Murray said that any tax incentive that would erode the tax base would probably take a legislative initiative and require legislative approval.
The commission OKed Adams idea to pursue a conversation about the idea with Moore.