RIO RANCHO – Neighbors near the Chamisa Hills Golf and Country Club will have to wait a little longer to learn the fate of the property, which is up for sale.
A live auction scheduled for May 29 was canceled and instead the real-estate group handling the sale, NavPoint Real Estate Group out of Colorado, will take “sealed bids” until at least through today.
Some neighbors have expressed fear that the new owners will fill in the property with residential development.
Current owner Harry Apodaca said the live auction was canceled because there were not enough “qualified” registered bidders.
Matt Call, principal Realtor working on the sale, said although almost 70 people registered for the auction, none put down the $10,000 required to participate in the live auction. Since then, he said about half a dozen buyers have shown “serious interest” in the property.
Call said the city’s impending water-rate increase has kept interested buyers at bay. Starting June 2014, the charge for treated wastewater used to irrigate the course will go from 47 cents to $3.28 per 1,000 gallons.
“In the case of Chamisa, the big issue we are dealing with is the water rates,” Call said. “We need a creative collaboration with the city to make sure this remains a golf course.”
City Councilor Chuck Wilkins said he doesn’t think the water rates are as much of deterrent as Apodaca claims. And, he said, although it’s a significant rate increase, it’s reasonable and the property has had the same water rate since 1995.
“It’s not right for citizens to subsidize a private golf course,” he said. “There are people who are low-income and they pay the same rate as everyone else. Is it fair to those people to subsidize a private golf course?”
Apodaca said he still hopes the city will consider reducing the rates for the new owner since the property is one of the city’s largest water users. Apodaca said during May, June, July and August he uses about 25 million gallons of water every month.
“With the rate increase,” he said. “There is no way this property could be viable.”
Meanwhile, Councilor Mark Scott, who represents the area of the city where the golf course is located, has sent a letter to the Mayor Tom Swisstack asking him to schedule a work session regarding Chamisa Hills. Scott said he wants to give residents a chance to express their views, offer the current owner a chance to address the governing body, and give the council time to “review and discuss, for our benefit and that of the public, all, and I stress all, of the facts” about the property.
Scott said he would like to see the property remain a country club and golf course.