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Red-light cameras stay until Dec. ’15

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Controversial red-light cameras and unmanned speed vehicles will stay in Rio Rancho until at least December 2015.

City Manager Keith Riesberg announced at the Rio Rancho Governing Body meeting Wednesday that he planned to extend the city’s contract with Redflex, the company that operates the unmanned enforcement equipment, for a year when the current contract ends in December. Riesberg has the authority to do so without governing body approval.

Keith Riesberg.

Keith Riesberg.

“As was indicated by the report prepared by the police department, accidents at the two intersections containing the red-light cameras and fixed-speed equipment have been reduced,” he said. “The use of the technology in the form of fixed intersection equipment and mobile speed units is an additional traffic safety resource that augments our police department’s efforts. The mobile speed units are able to be located to key areas throughout the community to address complaints about speeding or to alter driver behavior.”

Also, Riesberg said the budget includes revenue from the tickets the equipment issues, and there’s nothing to replace that money if the contract expired.

If the governing body wants to discontinue use of the equipment, he said, it can do so after the one-year extension and after including the decrease in revenue in that fiscal year’s budget.

In another matter, the governing body approved a zone change to allow the Sandoval County landfill to expand. The vote was unanimous vote, with Councilor Lonnie Clayton absent. The change switches 62 acres from single-family residential zoning to special use-landfill zoning.

The parcel is already on landfill grounds. However, Development Director Dolores Wood said the county is required to get city approval of a zone change and site plan for any landfill expansions.

“It’s a necessary evil,” Councilor Chuck Wilkins said of the landfill.

He said he was surprised to learn 90 percent of the business there came from Rio Rancho residents, and he wanted a fee paid to the city because of it.

Councilor Cheryl Everett said Rio Rancho is the only city in New Mexico to have two dumps within its limits, and she was concerned that developers wouldn’t want to build near them. Wood said governing body members could require buffers or screens around the landfill when the site plan came before them.

The landfill already existed when the City of Rio Rancho annexed that area.

In other business, governing body members:

  • Approved a second and final reading of an ordinance banning synthetic marijuana in Rio Rancho. The ordinance conforms to state law and allows police to cite offenders into municipal court.
  • Approved a small brewer liquor license for Blue Grasshopper Brew Pub on Arrowhead Ridge Drive.
  • Adjusted the budget to accept a $30,000 grant to install an emergency generator at the fire department administration building.
  • Postponed a presentation on a study of the municipal court because Judge Robert Cook couldn’t attend the meeting.
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