Subdivision developers reapply

On May 13, the Quay County Commission revoked its approval of the Saddleback Acres subdivision just east of Tucumcari, and on the next day, the owner and developers filed a new application to develop the same property.

The subdivision, which the commission had unanimously approved on January 14, would comprise 23 acres divided into four lots of a little less than six acres each on a parcel called WMQ Farms, owned by Paul Quintana of Tucumcari. Each of the lots would sell for $30,000 according to application documents.

After the January approval, owners of land next to the proposed subdivision filed a series of appeals to the county, the last of which was filed in 10th District Court in Tucumcari.

The appeal, filed by Drake Swenson and Christina Fleming, who operate a farm next to the subdivision property, alleged that by approving the Saddleback development, the county had failed to comply with state open meeting laws, regulations requiring public hearings and its own policies in approving the subdivision.

Their appeal said that the subdivision would have reduced the value of Swenson and Fleming's property, threatened water supplies and interfered with their farming and training operations.

Warren Frost, the Logan attorney who represented the county in the court filing, said Swenson and Fleming's allegations of failure to comply with laws and regulations related to open meetings and public hearings "were not true." Approval for Saddleback Acres' type of subdivision does not require public hearings, he said.

The subdivision was identified as a Type 3 subdivision, described in the county's subdivision ordinance as "any subdivision containing not more than 24 parcels any one of which is less than 10 acres in size."

Type 3 subdivisions, according to the county's ordinance, may be subject to summary approval by the commission, which means a public hearing would not be required.

Frost said the commission decided to revoke their approval of the Saddleback subdivision on May 13 because "we discovered there was additional information we needed from the developers." The commission, he said, decided "it would be better for the developers to start over."

The Saddleback property was to be developed by a group headed by C.J. Wiegel, a Tucumcari insurance agent and businessman. Other members of this group included Quintana and Shirley Morper of Tucumcari, according to documents filed with the county.

Wiegel declined to comment on the revocation or Swenson and Fleming's appeal. Quintana did not return a call placed on Monday.

In opposing the subdivision, Fleming said the subdivision approval would be "unrestricted," which would open it to just about any kind of residential development. In addition, she said, it would violate the spirit of the county's comprehensive plan, which says the county will preserve agricultural lands and scenic vistas.

Before Fleming and Swenson brought the matter to court, she said, other owners of land next to the proposed subdivision had participated in protesting the Saddleback development.

In addition, she said, Fleming and Swenson use Quay Road AK, which fronts all of the proposed lots in the subdivision, to train horses. Making this road a residential road, she sad, would mean an end to the farm's horse training operation.

She said it was "disheartening" that the matter had to go to court to make the commission pay attention to appeals from neighboring landowners, including Swenson and Fleming, to overturn their approval of Saddleback.

"They work for us," Fleming said of the commission, "not the developers."

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