By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Expressions of relief showed on the faces of local leaders Tuesday as they moved one step closer to completing an agreement that would hopefully create harmony amongst landowners, local governments and Cannon Air Force Base in regard to land use issues.
The Local Growth Management Committee agreed to review a near final draft of the Letter of Intent created by one of its subcommittees in hopes of gaining consensus before the end of July.
“(Tuesday) was truly a step forward,” said Portales Mayor Sharon King, who chairs the committee.
It’s a large stride from last month’s meeting when the group voted to form a new volunteer group to complete an acceptable non-binding document that would presented to the LGMC for action.
Nearly all of the parties involved said Tuesday that there isn’t a need for a new group to complete the task but rather to fine-tune what is already in writing.
King reminded those present about the purpose of the document.
“It’s to open up communication between landowners and Cannon Air Force Base on the use of private property,” King said.
The majority of landowners involved are concerned about the effects of military operations on possible wind energy projects in Roosevelt and Curry counties.
One of the minor issues mentioned with the current document was language that suggested Cannon’s affairs pose an obstacle to wind energy projects.
Real Estate Broker Charles Bennett of Portales, who helped create the document, admits he used poor language in a previous draft but felt the word “obstacle” adequately described Cannon’s presence in the development of wind farms.
Amanda Fagan with the Office of Economic Adjustment, the federal office that supplied the $105,000 grant for the study to be conducted, said the word obstacle is objective but had no other objections to the draft.
Ray Sullivan, publisher of the Portales News-Tribune and representative of the Committee of 50, suggested the word obstacle be changed to “challenge.”
But beyond the language issues, the document will be reviewed by landowners and Cannon alike within the next week and the committee hopes they’ll be able to then send it to the governing bodies of Curry and Roosevelt counties soon.
“I don’t like the thought of spending taxpayer money and not getting this done,” said Gayla Brumfield, one of the authors of the document. “We felt like we’re close enough. We took into account landowners and Cannon Air Force Base. We recognized how important wind energy is to this side of the state and how important the military is.”
If all parties involved approve the final draft, it will then be brought to a vote before the LGMC and passed on to the four governing bodies of Roosevelt and Curry counties.
With acceptance from those government entities, it would then prompt Cannon officials to sit down with landowners and talk early about potential projects, King said.