A handful of truckers in Rio Rancho, NM, have won what many
usually consider to be an uphill battle - they've successfully fought City Hall
to overturn a ban on truck parking in residential areas.
On Wednesday, Jan. 24, about a dozen truck drivers attended
a City Council meeting to speak out against an ordinance that had been approved
the week before. It prohibited tractor-trailers from parking on residential
lots in Rio Rancho.
Many of the drivers argued that before purchasing houses in
Rio Rancho, they had checked with the city to make sure they could park their
rigs at their homes. Others said they had surveyed their neighbors, and found
that many were surprised by the city's decision to enact such an ordinance.
"I do understand that there is a problem with noise and
pollution; however, every truck driver is not a problem," said Carol Dooley,
whose husband is a trucker. "Most truck drivers are considerate to their
neighbors. Why should the masses be punished for the actions of a few?"
The overarching theme, though, was that the ordinance was
essentially a slap in the face for an industry that had helped build the city
in the first place - and that the drivers who owned those trucks were voters
and residents, too.
"The city of Rio Rancho is being developed, and the growth
of Rio Rancho is being developed by the trucks of the residents of Rio Rancho,"
said owner-operator Zeke Chavez.
"All these people that have stood up and talked have done
something here in Rio Rancho. I hauled the rocks into your new City Hall, the
boulders that the waterfall is going to be built with."
Still, some members of the City Council were adamant about
what they said they believed were the trucks' negative effects on the city.
"Let's face it - if you have an 18-wheeler next to your
house every day, that 18-wheeler is going to impact the value of the homes in
that neighborhood," said City Councilman Howard Balmer.
"If I have an 18-wheeler sitting next to my house every day,
I guarantee you it's going to effect the value."
The truckers, however, were quick to point out that a truck
isn't going to be in front of a house every day.
"The trucks, they're there at the house maybe 25 percent of
the time - and that's at night," said trucker Ernest Sandoval.
In the end, the council voted 3-3 on the issue, with the
mayor serving as the tiebreaker vote in favor of overturning the ordinance.
However, he did express interest in establishing a new rule that would make
people on both sides of the issue happy.
- By Aaron Ladage, staff editor