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SF Council approves one housing development, delays on another

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe City Council approved one housing development plan but put off a decision on another during a meeting that lasted more than 10 hours and into the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Approved was a 120-unit, multi-family development to be called Acequia Lofts on 6.1 acres at the northeast corner of the intersection of Aqua Fria Street and Boylan Lane.

Developer Blue Buffalo, LLC had requested a zoning change in 2015 for a much larger project, with 399 units on 16.5 acres at the same location, but it was denied amid concerns that the project was too large, would create traffic congestion and was out of character with the neighborhood.

Santa Fe has had a severe shortage of rental apartments for years, although other multi-family developments are now also in the pipeline.

Since that project was rejected, the city created a West River Corridor Overlay District that encompasses the property, and Blue Buffalo submitted plans that meet the district standards. Whereas Blue Buffalo’s earlier proposal called for a density of 23.1 units per acre, the accepted plan for Acequia Lofts will be 19.7 units per acre.

Earlier in the meeting, the council spent hours — including hearing from dozens of people speaking on both sides of the issue — addressing an appeal of a Planning Commission decision to allow for a 49-home development on 40.5 acres in an affluent area just north of downtown.

The Greater Callecita Neighborhood Association protested the decision, arguing that the proposed development was “topographically unsuitable,” as the homes would be built in a hilly area above the neighborhood. Residents are afraid the project could cause rain runoff and erosion leading to damage to homes downhill and that the developer wouldn’t be liable.

Developer Ernie Romero argued that he has already spent tens of thousands of dollars on drainage and erosion control and noted that city staff had determined that the plan for his Estancias del Norte development was in accordance with all requirements.

The council voted to postpone a decision until its meeting on Sept. 26. and asked both sides to try to work together and reach an agreement.

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