Taos County planning commissioners approve ‘glamping’ site, neighbors lawyering up

New Mexico News

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) –Taos County could soon be getting high-end camping, also known as ‘glamping.’ In a 3-2 vote, the county’s planning commission approved a special use permit for the project, but neighbors are pushing back.

The Desert Flower Camping Resort would be built off County Road 110 about a mile and a half from the Taos County Country Club. It would include 24 camping sites, each with a wooden deck, fire pit, and what was described as a ‘safari tent’ for the convenient camping experience.

A parking lot, new road, and bathroom buildings would also be built. In peak season, the glamping grounds could have up to about 100 guests. In the planning commission’s meeting, the project owners applying for the special use permit, Jody and Xochitl Wodrich, described their love for nature and camping without RVs.

“My family and I would love to take off from time to time and go on camping trips. But, this took a lot of effort. And it often put us with our little tent next to these large RVs with loud noise and bright lights, the very thing we were trying to get away from,” Jody said. “We want to create a high-end camping experience that allows people to really enjoy nature with beautiful views and quiet skies comfortable and already set up for the visitors.”

“We hope to bring glamping to Taos. It’s change. It’s hard to understand. We promise it will be beautiful. We promise to care for the land and the community,” Xochitl said. The project owners also expressed to neighbors that they are not a big corporation, but rather a small business. However, neighbors aren’t sold.

Before the commission’s approval, nearly a dozen neighbors spoke out against the project, including Joe Mazza and Emily Gillispie, who live adjacent to the property site. “From our kitchen window, you can see right into the campground,” Mazza said.

They said they speak for about 40 neighbors in the area who have fire concerns, environmental concerns, and concerns of commercialization in their residential neighborhood. Neighbors are also concerned about light and noise pollution from glampers. The camping resort would also have a string fence instead of a solid one to avoid impact to wildlife, but it brings privacy concerns for neighbors.

“The possible devaluation of our property. We feel that potential buyers, they turn away due to the elimination of privacy and quiet ensuing from the campground area,” Gillispie said. They also said the permit application doesn’t meet the standards of a special use permit specifically when it comes to the land use being compatible with existing uses of neighborhood, being a benefit to the neighborhood, and of the visual impact.

Project owners said they would have fire extinguishers at every tent, security cameras, and someone on site during open months 24/7. They would also have restrictions on things like ATVs and pets, only allowing leashed dogs up to 40 pounds. They would also put a restriction on noise.

“Now they did say they’d put in a ‘no noise after nine,’ but if you’ve ever been to a campground you know it’s constant buzz throughout the day, cars pulling in, cars pulling out, people laughing, dogs barking,” Mazza said.

The county is in the process of preparing the Taos County Planning Commission’s Record of Decision. Once that happens, property owners within 1,000 feet of the project have 30 days to appeal the decision. Then, the county has 45 days to schedule a public hearing before the Taos County Board of Commissioners so they can hear the appeal. 

Mazza and Gillispie said neighbors do plan to appeal the decision. Neighbors are fundraising for an attorney for the appeal process.

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