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County approves Libba Land Subdivision

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LOVINGTON — The proposed Libba Land Subdivision north of Hobbs garnered Lea County Commission approval on a vote of 4-1 Thursday.

Commissioner Dean Jackson cast the lone no vote based on water concerns.

Addressing developer Daniel Johncox, Jackson said, “I just want to say on the vote, Daniel, I’m not against you. I’ve read the reports and done a lot of homework. Water’s a big thing for me and it just scares me. I just want you to know that.”

County Planner Bruce Reid brought the case to the commission, reviewing the results of a public hearing held on April 10 at a Planning and Zoning Board meeting after which board members unanimously voted, 4-0, in favor of the subdivision.

Libba Land had been rejected in September 2017 by the commission based on a negative opinion the Office of the State Engineer had issued, but Johncox sought another look at his proposal for 51 lots of 2.16–3.14 acres, averaging 2.71 acres, each about one-quarter mile north of Kansas Street between Grimes and Dal Paso streets.

The OSE reviews subdivision plans for their impact on drinking water, requiring at least 40 years of water for planning purposes.

Employing Roswell-based Atkins Engineering Associates to review the case, Johncox brought new information to the planning board’s public hearing, saying the computer model used at the OSE assumed an annual loss of 4.5-4.7 feet of water below the planned subdivision.

Atkins used real-time data from a 73-year-old U.S. Geological Survey well just north of the site and found the decline at 1.4 feet per year for the last 10 years, anticipating at least 89 years of use available, possibly much more.

“The OSE model predicts that the yearly decline should be 4.6 feet per year,” said Atkins engineer Chris Cortez. “So quite a difference between the modeled amount and the actual observed amount.”

After Reid’s presentation, commissioner Jonathan Sena responded with a motion to approve.

“I know the state issued their opinion and we looked at it, too. That’s something we’re elected to do. We have to look at all the facts,” he said. “Looking at what the planning and zoning board did, looking at the facts and the expert testimony that was provided by Mr. Johncox and his team, and based on what I see in the legal provision provided to us in the statute, I believe we need to approve this. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

To be constructed in three phases, the subdivision will include a new Georgia Street running east-west from Dal Paso Street to Grimes Street.

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