Hidden Rift

During the first weeks of 2018, Carson residents learned by chance that two new members of our community had developed plans to construct and operate a low-cost campground on South Carson Road behind the Carson post office. It was called the Hidden Rift Campground, and it even had its own website.

One of the mistakes the developers made was to not involve the Carson community in their early planning stages. The CCA Board left them in no doubt on that point. However, they went ahead all the same and entered the plans into Taos County’s planning process. That process includes a public meeting of the Taos County Planning Commission which gives residents the opportunity to comment on the merits or otherwise of the development plans.

The Carson community worked together to produce a six-page letter to the Commission detailing our concerns, which covered points that included fire risk, crime risk, changing the nature of the community, damage to the property of neighbors, impacts by vehicles and threats to the safety of pedestrians, air quality, water drainage and no net benefit to our community. In addition to offering no jobs or significant revenue, the campground would only benefit the traveling outdoor enthusiasts who aren’t residents and who want to use Carson as their playground.

In one of Carson’s finest hours more than 50 people showed up at the public hearing on March 14 with the intention of expressing their views on the proposed campground to the commission. Around 50 of us spoke up against the proposal, and one of Carson’s newer residents spoke in favor of the proposed campground. She informed us that as the the community grows and changes, it should be directed in a way that is positive, namely a lost-cost campground for rock climbers. In the drama that followed, as we went past midnight and the Commissioners retired to consider their verdict in closed session, to their credit the developers withdrew their application. They could see the strength of the opposition.

As the Commissioners retired, Taos County staff member Rudy Perea reminded them about two of the points that they must consider when making their decision about whether the campground plan could pass to the next stage. These were both mentioned in the Carson community’s letter to the Commissioners.

The first was that the proposed campground use would damage the property of the immediate neighbors which would reduce the reasonable use and enjoyment by those property owners of their property, which qualifies as private nuisance.  The second was that proposed use of the property as a campground unreasonably interferes with and disturbs the rights of the community at large and creates a public nuisance. Creating a private or public nuisance is an unlawful act.

These are legal issues that we need keep in mind as we go about our daily activities. If we do anything on our properties that diminishes our neighbor’s ability to enjoy their property, or is detrimental to the community, we can find ourselves exposed to legal action. And if that nuisance to others comes from the animals we keep then we are in breach of the Animal Control Ordinance of the County.

While such rules and regulations may appear as overreach by some, when you are one who cannot enjoy your property because of the actions of others, these laws may take on a value, namely that of protecting your rights as an individual. You can read the Taos News article on the background to the defeated campground proposal online here https://taosnews.com/stories/carsons-rift,47005