A Tale of a Town
By Seth Steiner in Los Alamos
A developer wants to build as many as eleven homes on a one-and-a-half acre lot in Los Alamos with access from a quiet road that is less accustomed to vehicular traffic than to walkers and joggers and dog walkers and children on bikes and parents with infants in strollers.
The county planning department is in the process of granting the developer’s request for access from this road even while two other possibilities would be less problematic. If allowed, the community’s enjoyment of this section of road would be significantly influenced by a considerable increase in vehicular traffic and this impact would be unmitigable.
The county planning department has not taken sufficient account of the one-lane bottleneck at the end of this road that, with greatly expanded vehicular traffic, is more likely to result in accident and injury. To this, add the transportation planning supervisor’s complacent remark that the county need not be concerned with accident and injury here because “Liability is covered by design immunity as long as we follow adopted County/Federal standards and guidelines.” Further, this supervisor woefully underestimated the increase in road traffic arising from an additional eleven homes and from the draw resulting from widening the road.
The planning department has zigged and zagged on its commitment to hearing concerns of the town’s residents in a forum that could make a decision that would have weight in the deliberations of the county’s planning commissioners. And, mystifyingly, the planning department sees no need for a traffic study that would require it to justify its contested estimates.
Many townsfolk have spoken up in favor of a change of access road to one of the other two possibilities and there is concern about the planned density of the development. The first issue could be resolved if the developer was willing to compromise and request a design exception. We look forward to being able to speak up in a forum that would allow residents a say in the outcome of a project that could have major consequences for our wonderful little town.
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