The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Mother Nature plays dirty

Some in east Clovis complaining of dirt blown from vacant lot.


April 15, 2018

Jamie Cushman

Windblown dirt from a vacant lot has become a nuisance, according to homeowner Staci Manley.

CLOVIS — Homeowners in east Clovis are claiming that wind-blown dirt from a vacant lot has become a nuisance in their neighborhood.

City officials say there is nothing that they can do.

Staci Manley said she's lived on Fred Daugherty Avenue, behind the Clovis Civic Center, for about a year but never had an issue with wind blowing dirt off a vacant lot until about a month ago. That's when hay bales that lined the property were removed.

Now Manley says her home and the surrounding properties have become inundated with dirt being blown from across the street.

"There is just an overwhelming amount of dirt consuming all of our yards in this area," Manley said. "I'm just looking to get some type of solution to this issue because I've talked to many people in this area and it's sounding like this issue is going to have to be solved by the community and paid for by the community to keep our property intact."

Clovis Code Compliance Supervisor Marcus Brice said he inspected the property and had the hay removed and the property cleaned by the owner because it was not compliant with city code. That's because the hay could attract animals.

But because the lot is vacant, Brice said there is no requirement to prevent dirt or dust from blowing onto surrounding properties.

"Dirt's going to blow, we're in eastern New Mexico," Brice said. "Dirt blows all over town. I've got the problem at my house, too. We have nothing in our ordinances governing keeping dirt from blowing unless the property is under development. We can't regulate Mother Nature."

Clovis City Manager Justin Howalt said he was aware of the issue but the city has no course of action.

"There's nothing that the city of Clovis can do to prevent the blowing dirt," Howalt said. "The only ordinance that we have in place are in regards to the height of the vegetation."

Brice and Howalt encouraged the property owners to explore their own options for keeping dirt away from their homes.

"I would suggest that they maybe buy some landscaping material and fence around there xeriscape yard or something to that effect," Brice said. "Dirt blows in and dirt blows out at my house. I've come to realize after living here 24 years there's not much you can do to stop it."

"There's definitely products that are on the market, like a silt fence that could be placed on their property line, which would help; it's something that they may be able to utilize," Howalt said.

Manley said one neighbor received an estimate that fencing would cost $1,500 to prevent the dirt from blowing onto their property.

According to records from the Curry County assessor's office, the 14.15 acre vacant lot in question has been owned by Pulcherio Palma and the business Palma Homes Inc. in Visalia, California since 2005.

Palma died in 2010, according to an obituary published in the Visalia Times-Delta. His wife, Ofelia Palma, who now runs the business, declined to comment to The News on Friday.

Manley said she wants the property owner and the community to be aware of the problem so that a solution can be found and similar issues don't reoccur in the future.

"I just want them to be aware that this is a community issue for property owners of Clovis so we would really like some type of resolvement or better communication with us about what can be done and what we possibly could do to prevent this from happening again," Manley said.


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