The American Legion’s request for a liquor license was pulled from the City Council meeting at the last minute Thursday.
The council may reconsider it at its next meeting in April.
American Legion Commander Orlando Padilla said he was disappointed. The club is seeking to sell liquor at its location on North Montana Avenue.
“We were prepared to present our case,” Padilla said. “We were surprised it was left off the docket for some reason. Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
The liquor license application was preliminarily approved by the state Alcohol and Gaming Division. To receive final approval, councilors must hold a public meeting and vote in favor of granting the license.
Padilla attempted to ask councilors and City Attorney Barbara Patterson the reason why the issue was removed from the meeting’s agenda.
“What was explained to me, we’re a quasi-judicial body,” Mayor Dennis Kintigh said. “We must operate differently than a judicial body. We can’t receive any information outside of the hearing. There was a recommendation made by staff that this matter be postponed.”
Patterson was asked to remind council how to conduct a public hearing.
She informed the council that councilors cannot take information from outside of the hearing and have contact with anyone related to the issue. She instructed the council not to discuss matters on the agenda with anyone outside of the hearing, in order to “render a fair decision.”
“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to vote this way or that way.’ You have to wait until everything is done,” Patterson said. “To be fair to the process, you need to wait and hear the evidence presented at the hearing.”
In other action, councilors voted to move forward with publishing an amendment to the city’s Clean Air Ordinance, to include banning electronic smoking devices in public places.
The move will allow the council to hold a public hearing on the change at its meeting in April.
Councilor Steve Henderson, who proposed the change, instructed councilors not to discuss the matter until April.
“For the new council members, this is the procedure for the publication for the hearing next month, that’s when we have the debate,” Henderson said.
Henderson then went ahead and discussed the matter.
“This is a fairly easy amendment,” Henderson said. “These e-cigarettes are a different animal. It was felt we needed to amend or adopt an ordinance that needed to include the e-cigarettes.”
Henderson said he answered an email that was sent to councilors by a citizen.
“I did email him back and answer his question,” Henderson said. “It really is not a matter of crime or law. It is a matter of preservation of health. It’s a health issue, not a crime issue, or a rights issue. I would just say that.”
One male resident spoke about the ordinance change.
“We need to hear it,” he said. “We need to have a hearing. Please, are we talking about a health issue or people just not blowing smoke? I would be anxious to hear it.”
Councilors approved lodger’s tax funding requests for the 30th annual Milkman Triathlon, the New Mexico Senior Olympics, Hike It! & Spike It!, Jesse Andrus & Mike Hillman Memorial Bull Riding Event and the Pecos Valley Quilt Show.
Kintigh, who ran an efficient meeting, called for the council to elect a new mayor pro-tem. Councilor Jason Perry was elected by seven members to serve in that role.
Councilors were also given committee assignments.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Councilor Elena Velasquez commented that for the first time, the council was made up of 50 percent minorities.
“That’s historical,” Velasquez said. “It’s been a huge struggle for Roswell. And for the first time, we have four women on City Council. I think that’s really special.”
Kintigh thanked everybody for participating at the end of the new council’s first meeting together.
“I look forward to working with all of you in the future,” Kintigh said. “I appreciate your commitment to public service. I admire and respect all of you.”