City Council Chambers at Socorro City Hall

The City of Socorro is considering taking possession of California Street.

Socorro’s City Council passed a motion at their regular meeting last week expressing initial interest in taking possession of the street. Since California Street, the main thoroughfare through town, is part of the interstate, it is owned by the state transportation department. The city is proposing taking over the street from highway exit to highway exit, because the city would then be in charge of maintenance and management of the stretch of road. This would include being allowed to set the timing for the traffic lights and deciding on entrances and exits for businesses.

It would also mean taking on maintenance for the street.

The city council also approved a business registration for a cannabis grower in a residential area despite a neighbor’s objections.

The grow operation is a research project to test different strains of marijuana to see what grows best in the New Mexico climate. They would grow approximately 400 plants at a residential property on Harold Drive, an agricultural neighborhood. Pat Davis, listed as the owner of Canopy Services, LLC, came to speak on behalf of the business, pointing out that Socorro would benefit from the tax revenue generated by the business.

Dr. Leslie Johnson, who lives on a farm across the street from the proposed site, does not trust that the cannabis grower will keep the operation small. She’s concerned that the operation will expand. She’s also worried about the potential smell of growing cannabis and concerned crime could increase in the area because of the cannabis growing there.

Davis addressed some of the concerns she raised, including explaining that some of the security measures like fencing and security cameras are required by state law for a cannabis grower. A custodian will live on the property. Generally, the smell is noticeable during the last four weeks of growing, said Davis.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker said he supported bringing more cannabis industry into the city because it’s an opportunity for significant economic development.

“It’s a welcome sight to see somebody invest this kind of money in our town. I don’t think it would have happened if we didn’t have legal cannabis,” said Bhasker.

The use permit for the business had already been approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission because horticultural use on the property was already permitted in city codes for that property.

New Code Enforcement Officer Christopher Carillo was sworn in to his position at last week’s Socorro City Council meeting.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

In other business, the council:

  • Tabled a request for a liquor license waiver from New Mexico Tech. Tech wants to use the grotto outside the basement level of Skein Library as a space to distribute liquor for special events. Since the spot is within 300 feet of a church, they need no objections from the church and a special waiver from the city to get state approval. Tech Director of Auxiliary Services Nowka Gutierrez said she has no objections from the church or any of the congregations that use its building, but the council asked her to get a formal letter stating that and a list of all of the special use spots that Tech is applying for before the city agrees to the waiver.
  • New Code Enforcement Officer Christopher Carillo was sworn into his position. The city also entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the school district that would allow the city code enforcement officer to act as a school resource officer at the middle school.
  • Approved business registrations for six businesses, including Lujan’s Freeze Dried Foods, Pecos Joe Bar B Que, American Spirit Drafting, Ruth’s Astrology, Perfect Scents and More, and Canopy Services, LLC.