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Montezuma County housing survey raises concerns

Residents dissatisfied with discussions of ‘workforce housing’ in Montezuma County
The city of Cortez is considering changes to the land use code to accommodate affordable and workforce housing projects. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

In late May, Montezuma County residents might have found a flyer from Montezuma County with information about an online survey regarding community housing in their mailboxes.

The survey is 16 questions long and was designed to gauge public opinion on housing in the county. The goal is to “help craft a local housing policy that will meet the needs of County residents and to ensure that land use decisions support new housing investment,” the top of the survey states.

The survey focuses on public opinion about the housing situation in Montezuma County and asks questions about each person’s unique housing situation and needs. The survey allows the public to rate their concerns on specific issues, such as affordability, quality senior housing, development, workforce housing, safety and crime in the community, and short-term rentals.

Public commenters have expressed their dissatisfaction with this survey and the questions it asks.

At Tuesday’s weekly meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, Susan Kemnetz and Allan Maez both voiced their concerns.

“I have a lot of problems with this survey,” Kemnetz stated. The questions “force you to answer a certain way,” she said.

Kemnetz also said she found out that “you can go in and do this as many times as you want,” which seemed “very unscientific.”

Maez also expressed his concerns at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I don’t feel that the county commissioners should be involved in building out in the county other than following land use code as they are presented to you through PNZ (Planning and Zoning), and not encouraging low-income housing or affordable housing out in the county,” he said.

He didn’t seem to be against affordable housing entirely, but didn’t think that putting it out in the county and agriculture community would be helpful.

“I don’t want to see a commercial PUD or an affordable housing project out in the county when that’s probably not the place for it,” Maez said.

Dave Dove sent a letter to the county commissioners with his thoughts about the survey. He describes the survey he found in his mailbox as “obviously designed to create a specific response.”

He said the survey creators “have caused all of the responses to be an inaccurate portrayal of Montezuma County residents’ views.”

“Why are the two new big low-income apartments by the Post Office so empty after being open for about a year?” his letter asks. He says that plans have been considered to place more housing in areas such as the old Johnson Building, the old high school building property, and even the Anasazi Hotels.

Separately from the county, the city scheduled housing policy open houses Monday from noon to 2 p.m. at the Cortez Chamber, 20 W. Main St., and 5-7 p.m. at City Hall, 123 Roger Smith Ave. On Tuesday, a meeting was planned from 3-5 p.m. at City Hall. The goal of these open houses was to “learn about the housing policy update process,” a flyer advertising the event stated.

For more information about the city’s efforts, email rmarchbanks@cortezco.gov or call (970) 900-7073.