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Pros, cons, curiosity greet winery proposal

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More than 60 residents recently packed a meeting room in the North Valley to express support, opposition or just curiosity about a proposed winery along Alameda that would sit in a residential zone.

The owner of the property, Xavier Zamarripa, wants to convert three of his four acres into a vineyard that would include an art gallery. The remaining acre would be for his home.

Zamarripa arranged Sept. 23 meeting at the Raymond G. Sanchez Community Center to answer questions and hear suggestions. He used a mediator and also had an engineer and his attorney on hand to answer technical and legal questions.

The winery would have a lot with 55 parking spaces and would be able to accommodate a maximum of 126 guests.

Zamarripa must get a special-use permit from Bernalillo County because the property is zoned residential. He said he plans to go before the County Planning Commission in December. He deferred his initial request so he could work out access to the property from Alameda with the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Zamarripa told the residents that he was a part of the community and that his wife grew up just a few streets away from where they now live.

“I have fallen in love with the community and the area,” he said. “I wanted to bring back some of the roots of what was here before by having this winery. This is traditionally an agricultural area, and this was an opportunity to maintain a rural community. I wanted to bring back some of the roots of what was here before by having this winery” he said. “This is traditionally an agricultural area, and this was an opportunity to maintain a rural community.”

Zamarripa is an artist and said he wanted to provide a space for local artists to display their work. He said the vineyard would protect the area from other, less-desirable types of commercial development.

The numbers of those speaking for and against the proposal were about equal. A handful said they had not made up their minds and wanted more information.

Guadalupe Trail resident James Meyer wasn’t one of them. He expressed his distaste for the project, telling the gathered crowd they were being persuaded by “warm fuzzy” talk. “People forget there will be booze here,” he said.

“You will be sending 55 drunk people out onto Alameda. Everybody leaving there will be drunk and driving on Alameda.”

Another neighbor on Guadalupe, Leslie Stoddard, had the opposite opinion. A retired schoolteacher, Stoddard said the community needs more spaces where people can connect with nature and enjoy art. She said the project has a commercial slant, but that is outweighed by the benefits.

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