Truckers win reversal of parking ban in New Mexico

| Friday, February 02, 2007

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
aaron_ladage@landlinemag.com

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