The Emails

By: Contributor
8 May, 2017

For years now, much of the Town of Taos government has displayed a pattern of increasingly blatant, problematic behavior. Hostility toward public input, contempt for due process, and a distressing lack of critical oversight have been markers of the Barrone administration. Perhaps most distressing is the willingness of so many to go along with the deceitful machinations of one individual. Under the guidance of Town Manager, Rick Bellis–in relentless pursuit of his own agenda–the Town of Taos has seemingly become an agent for large corporate developers, who time and again have enjoyed special treatment, while many small/locally-owned businesses are left to fend for themselves.

Below you’ll find a series of emails between Rick Bellis and Jatin Batra, developer of the proposed Holiday Inn Express. Reminiscent of the questionable Smith’s/Couse Pasture dealings, these emails bring to light the unethical and longstanding favoritism shown to Jatin Batra.

  • Jatin Batra, developer of the Holiday Inn Express, purchased the land for said project knowing that the Town of Taos government would “pave the way” for his development. Rick Bellis assured Mr.Batra that if he did not obtain a variance the Town government would “adjust the codes accordingly
  • Rick Bellis was aware of the proposed Holiday Inn Express, and Jatin Batra’s intent to build higher than 27’ an entire year before the proposal was made public
  • Rick Bellis consulted Jatin Batra on how best to manipulate the Planning & Zoning commission
  • It was Rick Bellis’ idea to put forth the 4-story hotel plan
  • Jatin Batra felt comfortable enough to ask Rick Bellis for his “strong support” against growing opposition from the Sagebrush Inn
  • In an email to Lynda Perry, Jatin Batra admits that the $500,000 Community Development Block Grant was a condition of his purchase of the Hotel Don Fernando
  • Pavel Lukes, member of the Taos Planning and Zoning Commission, and longtime Real Estate Agent/Business Consultant for developer Jatin Batra, emailed Dan Barrone asking him to “reciprocate his generosity” during Mr. Lukes’ run for Town Council. While this isn’t illegal, it does raise red flags considering his close ties with Batra, Bellis and Barrone


Mr. Bellis will likely excuse his actions by asking the people of Taos to believe he was acting in service of the greater good. However, his methods would suggest otherwise.
No matter one’s opinion of the Holiday Inn Express or Smith’s projects, this is neither professional, nor acceptable conduct by a government official.


All documents herein were obtained from the Town of Taos via the Inspection of Public Records Act
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