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Eyes on the Family Dollar Store

The Taos News
Published Thursday, December 8, 2011

A real estate developer, an artist, and a farmer are all, understandably, going to look at the same piece of property with different eyes: the first for what he can build on it; the second for how he can paint it; the third, for what he could grow on it. Taosenos are in the same place in their opinions about the property adjacent to Overland Sheepskin Company north of D. Ben Romero Road in El Prado where Family Dollar Store wants to build. We all come to the property with different eyes.

I’m not an artist, but I do support Taos Friends United in their opposition to a new Family Dollar store at this particular location—zoned rural/agriculture—because I want to protect its beauty. There are the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, some peaks now capped by snow. There is the big, open, sunlit pastureland. I grew up in the suburbs of New York, the city where everything your eye lands on refers to what human beings have made. But in Taos, whenever the eye looks at the mountains and the openness of the land, not made by man, we are referred to something bigger than ourselves. Where we share in mystery, there is something sacred.

When I first came to Taos and encountered its beauty, it literally took my breath away. I felt vertigo when I looked at the open spaces, so overwhelmingly big to me I felt the need for something solid at my back so that I wouldn’t fall into it. After living here full-time for ten years, I don’t feel that way anymore. Sadly, I’m getting used to the beauty, as I’m guessing, many of you who were born in Taos and grew up here must feel. But I catch myself and don’t ever want to take the beauty for granted. Once it’s compromised, it’s gone.

So we have the corporation Family Dollar Store, based in Charlotte, NC, with its eyes only on fulfilling its plans to build 450-500 new stores this year, including one in Taos. We have The Hutton Company, based in Chattanooga, TN, with its eyes on real estate and finding the site, developing and managing the property and providing construction services. We have Abeyta Engineering, Inc., in Taos working with The Hutton Company with its eyes on creating design drawings and overseeing construction and preparing the application for a “special use permit” from the County. We have 2,500 residents of Taos County who have signed a petition with their eyes on preserving the beauty that for many recent residents drew them to Taos and for many native-born residents keeps them here.

At 8,000 square feet, Family Dollar Store is not a “big box.” Taos Friends United is not opposed to a Family Dollar store in Taos. Just not in that beautiful meadow. There are other more appropriate sites available on the highway in El Prado in the district that is already commercially developed that could satisfy all the different eyes.


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