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If you are planning to build a carport, construct a fence or put an addition on your house inside the city limits of Roswell, you will certainly be heading to the home-improvement store among your first trips to prepare for your project. However, also among your first trips – perhaps what should be your very first one – is a visit to the city’s Planning and Zoning Division.
The staff at Planning and Zoning, which is a division in the Public Works Department, can help you figure out what building permits you will need and how to obtain them. It will be at that office you can also inquire about how your plans fit in with the zoning designation for the part of the city in which your property is located. The P&Z staff will be able to tell you if your project is in line with the zoning or if you will need to seek a variance or perhaps adjust some of the project plans.
The Planning and Zoning Division is charged with helping guide future development in the city by promoting the best use of the community’s land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional and recreational purposes while addressing environmental, economic and social issues of Roswell as it grows and changes. This means P&Z is involved in decisions regarding residential and commercial construction and infrastructure development, as well as administering the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan, Downtown Master Plan, Land Use Plan, zoning ordinance and subdivision ordinance.
The division also oversees the operations of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which has decision-making authority for a number of development approvals such as variances, special and conditional uses, subdivisions and potential amendments to the zoning code. P&Z also facilitates inter-governmental coordination and cooperation among several development-focused agencies by providing staffing assistance to the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District/Council of Governments, Roswell-Chaves County Extra-Territorial Zoning Commission, MainStreet Roswell and ad hoc committees while also working on capital outlay projects and the Community Development Block Grant process.
The P&Z’s current three-person staff (pictured left to right) is led by Planning Manager Bill Morris, who often concentrates on dealing with future development planning, economic development and issues associated with affordable housing. Meanwhile, Zoning Administrator Merideth Hildreth and Zoning Technician Miguel Martinez devote much of their time to current planning issues, such as site plans, cell tower placements and building permits.
The P&Z staff reminds citizens who are coming to the office to inquire about a building permit to bring any surveys or other documents related to the property. That will help ensure all the needed information is correct and available, which can help speed up the process so the citizen’s project can move forward or take any other steps that may be necessary.
“I think that the greatest misunderstanding about Planning and Zoning is that we just want to regulate development for the sake of regulating,” says Morris. “Wrong, because we really care about our city and want things to be built at the best level possible.”
The Planning and Zoning Division has its offices at the City Hall Annex at 415 N. Richardson Ave. The phone number is (575) 637-6223. More information about the division and the topics it deals with is found on the P&Z section of the City of Roswell website at http://roswell-nm.gov/189/Planning-Zoning.