Bernalillo Commissioner: New charter could help address problem properties faster

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) — County commissioners will soon begin creating rules under its new charter. They say this county constitution will help them address your concerns, quicker.

Many South Valley residents likely remember what used to occupy an empty lot on the 2100 block of Metzgar Road. It was a nuisance property destroyed in 2012, but it wasn’t easy to demolish. It took a year and a court order before the county could put a bulldozer to the task.

“It’s more complicated for the county to pursue something like that,” said Bernalillo County Commission Chair Debbie O’Malley.

But O’Malley says that’s not the case anymore.

“Now, we have more local control over zoning,” said O’Malley.

It’s thanks to a new, home rule county charter. Locals voted it in, November 8, 2016.

“It gives us more independence,” she said.

O’Malley says it means commissioners no longer have to ask the state for permission to make changes.

“It’s made it difficult for us to respond to our constituency because we have to say, ‘we’re not able to do those things,'” O’Malley explained.

This constitution for the county now affords commissioners the power to create rules to address issues, even emergencies, faster.

“This is a big deal,” said O’Malley.

She says small businesses will feel the effects too, now that the county has a stronger say over how it spends.

“Are we willing to spend a little more if it means we’re putting money back into the economy? That’s something we need to talk about,” said O’Malley.

Commissioners say it still won’t be easy to tear a house down. However, with this new charter, commissioners will be able to create a local process to address it.

O’Malley says the change also means the county is now eligible for direct, federal funding. That means it won’t have to always compete with other counties at the state level to get money.

The charter was possible due to a 2014 resolution passed in the legislature allowing Bernalillo County to become an urban county.

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