Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commissioner John Arango Resigns Over County Commission Oil and Gas Ordinance Approval

Ordinance approved to publish at Thursday’s Commission meeting would allow drilling without public notice or groundwater monitoring with many other concerns ignored

Update: P&Z Commissioner James Maduena has not resigned his post even though the County website shows his post vacant. 

Rio Rancho, NM – Apparently, John Arango has resigned as Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman over the actions of County Commission Chair Don Chapman and Planning Director Mike Springfield at the September 21st evening meeting. The 9-page ordinance was approved to publish with inadequate considerations for the public interest and welfare. Arango’s 8-page memorandum of September 14th indicates, concerns were about permissive use, no public hearing, inadequate notification process and no protections for water and air or other issues brought forward by the citizens on this ordinance.

The Planning and Zoning Commissioner John Arango stated at the September PZ meeting that he would vote to send the current draft of the ordinance forward along with a memorandum on the suggestions, which was agreed to by PZ Commissioners Stoddard and Brown, but voted down by Commissioners Herrera and Maduena because the ordinance did not address the issue of the citizens. The ordinance was to go for discussion before the County Commission, and later Arango stated that he was pressured by Chapman to send it back to him immediately.

The agenda and county staff report for the advertised meeting did not include the memoranda that were written by the PZ Chairman and the Planning and Zoning Director that were sent to the Commission. Commissioner Arango’s memorandum was given to the Citizens groups’ a few hours prior to the meeting. The public was not aware of Mike Springfield’s memo in which he refuted the public concerns’ until Chapman read Springfield’s memo that stated, “the public ‘s concerns were not important enough…”

Commissioner Chapman read Mike Springfield’s memo and ignored PZ Commissioner Arango’s concerns on what was lacking in the ordinance. Springfield’s memo of September 15th written 7 days prior to the meeting was not included in the staff report or advertisement for the meeting. Springfield stated at the meeting that, “staff recommendation is to approve the ordinance.” During Chapman’s statement, he eludes to Arango’s memorandum yet fails to read it verbatim into the record as he did Springfield’s memo. (Time stamp 1:35 in video minutes of the meeting.)

The ordinance will only allow ‘permissive use’ and would give Mike Springfield sole authority to rubberstamp without notice or public hearing to streamline permit applications. NMEMRD Secretary McQueen on May 12, 2017, County Work Session requested this streamlined process. This ordinance opens 267,00 private land acres to mineral leasing with a possible 15,000+ oil and gas well operations.

Over 80 citizens were locked out of the meeting at 5:40 pm and funneled into a room with only inadequate phonetic spelled captions and no sound to follow along. Chapman appears to have purposely broken up citizen’s public input, as they never shut out citizens prior to this meeting and failed to hold the meeting to accommodate the large numbers that they anticipated. However, oil and gas industry representatives were given reserved seating and allowed in after the doors were shut to the public.

“Sandoval County Citizens and Common Ground Community Trust advocates for a strong protective ordinance. The Commission continues to justify their insulting retaliatory actions by labeling those against this travesty of an ordinance, as “anti-Ordinancer’s,” stated Common Ground Rising Coalition. “The citizens of this County deserve a transparent, democratic process for a strong protective ordinance like the people of Santa Fe and San Miguel Counties. Citizens input was shut out, while county working with industry ran rough shot over the will of the people with a no regulation ordinance.”


‘Critical Internal Memos on Proposed Oil and Gas Ordinance Missing From the Public Record’