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Minutes of Meeting of the Future Planning Committee 11/2/09

Minutes of Meeting of the Future Planning Committee 11/2/09

The meeting was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2009, at Bettina Raphael's home and ran from about 5:30 p.m to 8 p.m.. The following members attended: Irene Webb, Carolyn Stevenson, John Kretzmann, Guthrie Miller, Dave Giltrow, Bettina Raphael, and Michael Simon, not a member of the committee, who sat in.  This was the first meeting of the full committee after about five months during which a subcommittee had been dealing with details related to the redrafting of the Gift Agreement for the property on Camino Lejo. In the interim, the Ad-Hoc Future Planning Committee had been instated as a permanent committee of the Meeting.

For the benefit of a couple of new members and to refresh older members, we briefly reviewed some of the Committee's past documents and activities, including: the original Minute and statement of purpose when the committee was created in May 2008; the recent revision of the Gift of Land Agreement; documents related to the bequest of the Olive Rush Studio to the Meeting; the outline for establishing a “Linked Foundation” for management of the property at 630 Canyon Rd.; and the history of the establishment of the South Santa Fe Worship Group.   A restatement was made of the committee's function: to draw together information and options regarding facilities and needs for presentation to the Meeting to help clarify choices for decisions on future directions and property commitments by the broader group of Friends. 

As in previous meetings, the discussions seemed to fall into three broad topics:
  
1) Gift of Land

o    After an account of the several hundred dollars in recent lawyer fees for updating the Gift Agreement related to Camino Lejo property, it was observed that if another redraft of the agreement is required if/when the Meeting incorporates. We may incur further legal costs.  Carolyn Stevenson suggested that her lawyer husband might review the documents before involving our past lawyer, Tony. Sawtell. 
o    We reviewed the 1955 covenant attached to the deed for the property that is part of the Devargas Subdivision. It not only limits the use of the land parcels only for residences, but it also allows only two houses per each 3.06 acre lot, requires construction be kept 50(?) yards from the road, and requires that the style of construction follow the “Old Santa Fe” or “Pueblo/Spanish” style of architecture. 
o    Guthrie said that lawyer Sawtell had advised us that only the immediate neighbors of the property were likely to challenge our project and that is why the Meeting sent letters and called only about four of the immediate neighbors.  Apparently there was only one of the four who had approved the use of the land to build a meeting house. One other neighbor has only recently moved in and may never have been contacted; another longtime resident, the Ortiz family, may never have responded to the Meeting; and the neighbor directly next door to the Meeting's land had vigorously objected.  This needs to be checked and followed up on and several options were mentioned: a) Guthrie proposes to invite the neighbors to a gathering at his home to develop a more personal relationship; b) it was suggested to explore if there is a neighborhood association that the Meeting might approach (Guthrie has had contact with the Old Santa Fe Trail Assoc. about work on Old Pecos Trail, but it is not clear if this is the appropriate body); c) a suggestion to have a small group of Friends go door to door to explain and rally support for our proposed use of the land was discouraged by Guthrie because of the hostility that might be encountered.
o    A question was raised about whether the Baptist Church across from the property on Old Pecos Trail and other non-residences, like the museums and support buildings on Camino Lejo, had been part of the Devargas Subdivision and why they were not restricted by the covenant.
o    It was proposed that the members of the Future Planning committee walk the land together to get to know it better and consider its planting, access, proximity to neighbors, and potential for use.  This could also be used as an opportunity to assess any stewardship issues related to the property.  A meeting on the land is proposed for Sunday Dec. 13 after rise of Meeting.
o    We propose to clarify the property tax issues related to the 55 percent of the land owned by the Meeting that we believe should not be taxed. In addition to discussing this further with Bob Gaines who has been exploring the issue, Carolyn Stevenson and Guthrie Miller plan to meet with the Santa Fe Tax Assessor in the near future.   
o    It was noted that so far there has been no major commitment of effort or money towards the construction of a new meeting house on this land. Given the seriousness of such a commitment, the Committee felt that it is important to ask the Meeting to consider: “Do we want to fight the covenant and work hard to secure our building rights at this time?”

2)  South Santa Fe Worship Group Facility

o    It was noted that the Future Planning Committee’s responsibility for stewardship of property does not include the rented meeting space used by the South Santa Fe Worship Group. 
o    It was noted that there has not been a major shift of Meeting members and attenders to the new meeting house, despite expressed desires by many for better parking and more space than is available at the Canyon Rd. facility.
o    Despite what may be perceived as “splintering” of the Meeting, the founding of a separate facility was not considered necessarily undesirable or a serious concern by many on the Committee. This brought up a questioning of the desirability of developing a large central meeting versus the accommodation of two smaller groups in Santa Fe. George Fox's praise of small meetings was noted.
o    Apparently the rent on the Southside building is paid for another year and it is unclear what will happen after the lease and funding runs out. 

3)  Status of Olive Rush Property on Canyon Road

o    In order to make future decisions regarding the use and financial status of the Olive Rush Studio, the Committee feels that it is necessary to continue to clarify the legal ownership and documents of the property. In this regard, it may be necessary to alter some of these documents if the Meeting incorporates and the previous Trustees may no longer be the official representatives of the Meeting.
o    We want to determine if Frank Hirsch ever located the Warranty Deed for the property and if he completed the work with the title company.  
o    We reviewed our understanding of the documents that describe the ownership and use of the Olive Rush Studio. After reading portions the “Agreement” and the subsequent  Will of Olive Rush, beside the provision that the land revert to the Historic Santa Fe Foundation if Meeting does not continue occupancy, several other important conditions were noted:  a) the encouraged use of the property for social rather than commercial purposes, b) the Meeting's weighty responsibility for the ownership and preservation of the property; c) the property being intended as a resource for the Meeting; and d) some of the varied potential uses mentioned in the Agreement included for Quaker hospitality, rental, lectures, and as a center for Quaker activities.  
o    The Committee seemed to be moving toward a sense that the Meeting is the real owner of the property and that legally, the terms of the Agreement are probably not binding because of the clause in Olive's Will stating that the contents of the Agreement should be considered but that: “It is my wish, but not a condition of this device.” However, the moral obligation of the Meeting is to somehow honor the intention expressed in the Agreement.
o    It was noted that MNO had proposed a “Called” Meeting on the disposition of Canyon Road property in February 2009, but this meeting never occurred.   The question remains if this should be pursued. 
o    We reviewed several of the past concerns of Meeting members about inadequacies of the current Meetinghouse for parking, space for Young Friends and First-Day groups, cramped and poor audio conditions in the worship space, and lack of expansion options for a growing membership. 
o    We reviewed a few of the past proposals and problems for building in the garden, annexing land from a neighbor such as Alice Parrot's property, as well as the strong attachment of many Friends to the history, intimacy and spirituality associated with the Rush Studio's use as a meeting house.
o    The Committee felt that its job has been to help the Meeting recognize and somehow come to grips with the dichotomy between a ) the Meeting's obligation to maintain the property and to keep its use consistent with Olive Rush's intent and b) some of the inadequacies of the aging facility with limited access and the inevitable costs and efforts required for its upkeep.    

The Committee concluded that, for the time being, it has fulfilled its mandate to explore and document various options and concerns regarding the physical property needs of the Meeting.  The Meeting has not indicated nor has the Committee concluded a clear way forward at this time.  Given the uncertainties still attached to the land use on Camino Lejo, to the future direction and relationship of the South Santa Fe Worship Group, and to the limits imposed by the current economic climate, we propose a slow approach allowing the Meeting to sit on and consider these issues until a way opens. In the meantime, the Committee will work to clarify some practical issues such as property taxes, documents of ownership, and potential options for the Camino Lejo property.

Prepared by Bettina Raphael 12/12/09

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