County passes open flames ban

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

County commissioners unanimously approved an open flames ban Tuesday in a regular meeting.

The commission will vote on keeping the countywide ban in place on a monthly basis.

“I believe about 18 counties around Amarillo have enacted burn bans,” Commissioner Robert Sandoval said. “And we know fires are not going to stop in the state line.”

Sandoval said the county is enacting the ban because of fires in surrounding towns in the last few months.

Commissioner Tim Ashley also updated the commission on the progress of a countywide nuisance ordinance, which was discussed in last week’s Land Use Committee meeting.

County Attorney Stephen Doerr told commissioners that enacting a nuisance ordinance currently drafted would be impossible to enforce.

He said the ordinance was designed to address corridors in the entrances into the city of Clovis, which would be too strict for rural areas away from the corridors.

“It’s more restrictive than what we’d like to see applied to rural parts of the county,” said Ashley, chairman of the Land Use Committee.

Ashley said the Land Use Committee suggests zoning the corridor areas and leaving the other parts of the county essentially unzoned.

Doerr said creating zones in the county would make enforcing the nuisance ordinance easier and it would be fair for residents who live away from the corridors.

The Land Use Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday.

In other business:

• County Clerk Mario Trujillo said the governor vetoed a bill that would allow counties to handle maintenance of electronic voting machines by themselves.

Trujillo said federal and state mandates required counties to have electronic voting machines from a Omaha, Neb.-based Election Systems & Software for the 2006 elections.

Curry County has 76 voting machines purchased by the state and the federal government, Trujillo said.

Trujillo said the veto could result in an annual $25,000 maintenance fee.

County Finance Director Mark Lansford said the money will come from the county’s operational budget.