The Taboo Show Club in Kirtland.
The Taboo Show Club in Kirtland. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — San Juan County Commissioners will soon vote on the county's first zoning laws for unincorporated areas.

Commissioners will vote Tuesday on a notice of intent to adopt a land use code for the land outside of the municipalities and the Navajo Nation. The notice, if approved Tuesday, would be followed by another public hearing on the proposal before commissioners vote to enact the ordinance in September, said County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter.

The land-use code would be the county government's first attempt to designate certain areas as residential and other areas as industrial or commercial. But the majority of the effected land would be designated for mixed use, which would mean certain businesses or homes could locate there.

Full maps of the county's zoning plans are available on the county's website and at the county administration complex in Aztec, Carpenter said.

The zoning areas wouldn't effect existing businesses, said Larry Hathaway, the community development administrator. He said a business that doesn't conform to zoning laws would be able to continue to operate but it couldn't expand.

"It draws the line in the sand. It does say from this point forward uses will be reviewed and considered," said County Operations Officer Mike Stark.

County officials said zoning laws are needed because they are expecting to see more people living in unincorporated areas. In 2010, 38,000 of the county's 130,000 residents lived in an unincorporated area, meaning not within a city or the reservation.

"We need something in place for orderly development," Hathaway said. "We only have so much land, and we're increasing population."

County officials said a land development code would offer protections to all property owners in unincorporated areas. Homeowners would not have to worry about businesses encroaching next to their property and businesses wouldn't have to worry about a neighborhood growing next to their operations.

The land development code would require the county commission to approve the location of all future adult businesses, such as strip clubs, and intensive agricultural businesses, such as a slaughterhouse, County Operations Officer Mike Stark said.

"The elected body, the commission, would have to approve a special use permit for those two types of activities," Stark said. "We're not saying there's not going to be a home for those activities, we're not restricting them, we're just saying there's going to be a review process."

Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.