Basic issues on Santolina still unsettled - Albuquerque Journal

Basic issues on Santolina still unsettled

I read with dismay the Albuquerque Journal’s article (Sept. 1) on the recent five-hours-long Bernalillo County Commission meeting approving the next phase of the controversial Santolina development. Several years ago, the Journal’s coverage of this important issue – a new town of 90,000 people proposed on vacant land on the Southwest Mesa – was quite informative. The reporter back then, Dan McKay, brought up the hard questions: Who benefits? Where does the water come from? Is this really a planned community or a taxpayer-subsidized bailout of a British bank that bought the 13,851-acre property in foreclosure and is trying to turn a profit?

A major point in the recent Journal article described Commissioner Wayne Johnson – a recent mayoral candidate – as “leading the charge to move the project forward.” He was joined by fellow Republican Lonnie Talbert, who asked not a single question all night, and Democrat Steven Michael Quezada in voting for approval of the Level B Plan. Missing from the article were important and largely unanswered questions by Commissioners Debbie O’Malley and Maggie Hart Stebbins who voted against it:

• O’Malley: Is this following the intent of the Comprehensive Plan to promote development contiguous to the metro area, or is it leap-frog development? No answer.

• O’Malley: Santolina negates the concerns of the community regarding water – it all comes from the same source doesn’t it, the Rio Grande and its aquifer? Not a clear answer.

• Hart Stebbins: Is it clear that Open Space and public school sites will be donated? Or will the county and APS have to purchase them? Not clear.

• Hart Stebbins: Did the fiscal impact analysis performed for this development consider impact of Bernalillo County tax subsidies? No answer.

These were just a few of the many unanswered questions – there were many more from Quezada’s South Valley constituents who adamantly oppose the project. In the past, the Journal did a good job of reporting on the large campaign contributions the Santolina developers and their associates made to support Quezada’s campaign for county commissioner. His honeymoon as Gomey should have been over the day he was sworn in!

Attorney Jamie Park of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, who is representing the opponents in court, raised many of the most important issues of the evening. It’s a pretty long list, but here are a few items:

• There is insufficient information regarding how public/private expenses will be shared. For example, off-site transportation impacts are estimated to cost $250 million. The cost of new schools, police and fire, and all of the other necessary public services will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

• The developer and the County Commission are deferring almost all the important issues to either a separate agreement or staff-only review. Park characterized the developer’s proposed development agreement, which should outline cost-sharing and future responsibilities, as a “contract of adhesion.” This was defined by the county’s attorney as a lopsided contract where one party reaps the majority of the benefits and the other party bears the burdens. It’s pretty clear in this case which party is which!

The Journal has done a good job in the past of reporting the unanswered questions about the impact Santolina will have on Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. There is too much at stake for this huge development – 22 square miles – to move forward without answering basic questions now. Readers and taxpayers deserve more thorough reporting from the only remaining general circulation newspaper in Bernalillo County.

Home » Opinion » Guest Columns » Basic issues on Santolina still unsettled


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
New grocery store approved near Rust Medical Center
ABQnews Seeker
The Rio Rancho Governing Board at ... The Rio Rancho Governing Board at its June 23 meeting approved site plans for Albertsons Market Street @ The Village near the new Presbyterian ...
2
Farmington's Gonzalez named Gatorade track and field athlete of ...
Featured Sports
Kayden Gonzalez of Farmington High was ... Kayden Gonzalez of Farmington High was named the 2021-22 Gatorade New Mexico Boys track & field athlete of the year on Wednesday. The 5-foot-10, ...
3
'Edmund and the Astronaut' a story of an unlikely ...
Entertainment
'Edmund and the Astronaut' at Fusion ... 'Edmund and the Astronaut' at Fusion in Albuquerque will run through July 10.
4
Metalwork artist work inspired by the sense of home ...
Arts
Santa Fe native Hernan Gomez Chavez ... Santa Fe native Hernan Gomez Chavez works in copper, bronze or stainless steel.
5
Santa Fe Wine Festival to feature 15 state wineries
Entertainment
The 28th annual event takes place ... The 28th annual event takes place at El Rancho de las Golondrinas from noon-6 p.m. Saturday, July 2, and Sunday, July 3.
6
Jemez Mountain Brewhouse opens its doors
Blogs
The recently opened brewery, located at ... The recently opened brewery, located at 17691 N.M. 4 in Jemez Springs, offers plenty of local craft beers including a few of its own.
7
Madrid staple offers up live music, pub food and ...
Dining Reviews
From pizza to sandwiches to a ... From pizza to sandwiches to a kid's menu where everything is $9.50 to the Mine Shaft's famous and award-winning Mad Chile Burger, bar flies ...
8
A look at Fourth of July festivities from around ...
Entertainment
At Balloon Fiesta Park, 4401 Alameda ... At Balloon Fiesta Park, 4401 Alameda Blvd. NE, Freedom Fourth is back for another year. The event ru ...
9
Filmmaker knew action thriller 'Hot Seat' had to be ...
Blogs
The premise of 'Hot Seat' follows ... The premise of 'Hot Seat' follows the story of an ex-hacker is forced to break into high-level banking institutions, as another man must try ...