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Revision of sand & gravel code definitions

August 2016–2018

A proposed gravel processing operation on NM14 that posed potential environmental, noise and safety issues initiated TTRA activity towards clarifying and tightening language around sand and gravel operations language in the Code. An "Alert to Take Action" email was sent to all TTRA member organizations to gather information and support, followed by emails raising awareness and urging participation at 4 public community meetings regarding proposed amendments to the Sustainable Land Development Code (SLDC).

One of the areas of concern focused on the "Small Scale Sand and Gravel Extraction" Ordinance which regulated sand & gravel operations under 10 acres in size. As a result of our efforts, this section of the Code was extensively re-written and adopted in 2018.

Proposed pilot flying j truck stop on nm14 by rancho viejo

October 2017–September 2018

In late summer 2017 the Santa Fe Gateway Alliance, formed by residents of Rancho Viejo, contacted the TTRA regarding a proposed truck stop in between Cerrillos Road and NM14 and requested our assistance. The location was problematic as it seemed dangerous from traffic safety and environmental aspects, as well as the introduction of a heavy commercial component into a neighborhood subdivision, all very antithetical to the quality of life that the Turquoise Trail promotes. A campaign was started to raise awareness and educate the public through flyers, emails, a FB page, newspaper stories and numerous large meetings of local residents. Fundraising was also instituted to pay for legal services. At a packed Planning Commissioner meeting a pre-organized and rehearsed group of speakers presented various issues about the project: the Planning Commissioners recommended against the proposal, and the project representatives appealed that decision to the County Commissioners. Overflow crowds of hundreds of residents packed two County Commissioner hearings, at which the Commissioners found in favor of the protestant groups.

On August 30, 2018, in a thorough and well-reasoned order filed on August 28, 2018, the Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) denied in part the conceptual-plan application of Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, and Exit 278, LLC, to build a truck stop and other facilities at the intersection of NM Highway 14 and I-25. (Exit 278, LLC, is the local entity that owns the property.)

The 48-page order made final the decision the BCC announced at its May 8, 2018 hearing on the application. Specifically, the BCC denied the part of the application that proposed certain truck-stop uses, but it approved in concept the remaining proposed uses, including: a gas station, convenience store, and three fast-food restaurants. The BCC also approved two additional development phases in the application, including two hotels and a restaurant, all of which would require further submissions and approvals. Following this order, Pilot Flying J withdrew its permit application and at this time there are no specific plans to develop the approved phases. The BCC’s decision was based on two primary determinations. First, the proposed “truck stop uses” were not materially similar to any allowed land use. Second, the proposed truck stop was inconsistent with the County’s Sustainable Growth Management Plan and the Community College District Plan.

hard rock mining ordinance

May 2016–August 2019

Following the approval of the new Santa Fe County Code and Zoning in late December 2015 (effective January 2016), the TTRA began working with the County to replace the mining language in the Code by drafting a separate and more comprehensive Mining Ordinance, based upon the format of the Oil & Gas Ordinance. Through a number of working sessions over a 2+ year period, and with the help of consultants brought in by the County, we developed an Ordinance that provides strong protections against mining in Santa Fe County that was adopted in September 2019 and has served as a model for several other counties seeking similar protections.

sandoval county oil and gas ordinance

In September 2017 Commissioner Dan Stoddard introduced an Ordinance which would give county staff sole authority to approve or deny drilling applications, allow oil and gas drilling without public notice, hearings or a vote by the county commission, and wouldn’t require baseline groundwater testing or post-drilling monitoring. All an oil or gas company had to do was to fill out an application, staff would only be required to make sure it was complete and then within 10 days the Department Director would be required to grant a permit.

The Stoddard ordinance, if approved, could have potentially put the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho aquifers, used by Sandoval County, Rio Rancho and Albuquerque, at risk of contamination from chemicals used in drilling, fracking and production. It was scheduled for a private meeting of the Commissioners, which was not advertised or promoted.

TTRA, Sierra Club and other citizen groups (tribal leadership, the pueblos, and organizing work from Pueblo Action Alliance, Dine-Pueblo Solidarity, and the Red Nation) worked to raise awareness and turn people out at several Sandoval County Commissioner hearings, through phone calling, emailing, public testimonies, lobbying, and public forums. In the Hearings, which were packed with "overflow" citizens watching on monitors in the downstairs lobby, residents in attendance were visibly and audibly angry and presented comments in opposition to the proposed Ordinance.

As a result, the Sandoval County Commission voted against moving the Stoddard ordinance forward at the Dec. 14th, 2017 commission meeting. An attempt to bring a slightly revised measure back in early 2018 was met with similar resistance and did not pass.

proposed gold mine in ortiz mountains


In October 2013 Santa Fe Gold began the process of seeking public support and permits to open a gold mine on portions of 42,297 acres in the old Ortiz Mine grant, including all of the Lone Mountain Ranch. An analysis filed with the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department in July by Santa Fe Gold indicated the company planned to remove 125 million tons of rock from two canyons in the area and dig a 1,000-foot-deep pit on the north side of Carache Canyon. Mary Lloyd Estrin’s family has owned the 27,545-acre ranch since 1965.

The Turquoise Trail Regional Alliance (TTRA) teamed up with Earthworks and Fair Jewelry Action, as well as other organizations, to form a coalition to oppose irresponsible mining. Earthworks released a study  which indicated high water use and groundwater contamination as well as devastation to the surrounding environment; Santa Fe Gold was reported to be financially shaky with questionable ability to insure and reclaim a project of the proposed magnitude.

An online and newspaper education and awareness campaign was initiated by TTRA and partners, along with an opposition letter and email writing campaign to the Santa Fe County Commissioners. In July 2014 The President of Santa Fe gold stepped down and a proposed merger with a Canadian mining company was cancelled. Gold prices dropped after this and the project was put on hold until prices rose high enough to ensure a profit from the operations. TTRA will continue to watch-dog this site for potential renewed interest when gold price rises in the market.