Commission delays vote on 'Santolina' development project

Created: 07/30/2014 6:17 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Opponents of a huge new housing development on Albuquerque’s far West Side have won at least a two month delay on approval of the project.  The County Planning Commission voted Wednesday not to vote on the project, putting off a thumbs up or thumbs down decision until Oct. 1.

Developers don’t see a desert out there south of Central Ave. on Nine Mile Hill, populated with jackrabbits and lizards and sprouting sagebrush and creosote bush. They see Santolina, the name of the proposed development. They see streets and sidewalks and houses and maybe 90,000 people living here. They see a self-sufficient community with business parks and industrial sites where people can walk to work.

But opponents see urban sprawl and a growing thirst for a limited supply of precious water.

“Just another reckless development project,” said one speaker at a news conference before the Planning Commission meeting. “It’s a project that is going to threaten our way of life, our culture, our ecosystem. Everybody is affected by this. It’s our greenbelt, this lush greenbelt we call the Bosque.”

Supporters tried to convince the Planning Commission to approve the basic plan for Santolina, saying they can deal with water issues and other worries.

“Here we are looking at a significant economic development project that will help our economy in this community for the next 40 or 50 years,” said John Garcia of the Central New Mexico Homebuilders Association. “It is time for us to step up and try to figure out how to make this project work.”

But commissioners decided they need more time and more information before which way they decide to turn their thumbs. So we wait till Oct. 1 to learn whether it’s up or down, green light or time to hit the brakes.

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