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SF Council OKs development near downtown

SANTA FE – The Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday voted 6-3 in favor of allowing development of a 49-lot subdivision on 41 acres near the city’s downtown.

The Greater Callecita Neighborhood Association and several individuals had appealed a Planning Commission decision in favor of the project from last March, arguing that the hilltop development was “topographically unsuitable.”

The neighbors say the Estancia del Norte development would be built above existing homes vulnerable to the erosion and flooding from runoff. The appellants were also concerned that liability for any such damage would not fall on the city or the developer but instead on a future homeowners association for the new development.

“I think the big concern here is really the flooding issues which many of the neighbors here have already been having to deal with for many years,” said City Councilor Chris Rivera, who voted against the project along with Signe Lindell and Renee Villarreal, the councilors representing the district where the development site is located.

“The city approves things like this and then 20 years from now, we’re all gone, city staff are all gone, but the residents remain,” Rivera said. “And then that becomes a big problem because then they’re dealt a 100-year flood and they have damage they warned us about and we never dealt with.”

But the majority of the council felt that developer Ernie Romero had met all the conditions for approval, had taken steps to mitigate stormwater runoff, and that the future homeowners association would put in place covenants to reduce the risks or erosion and flooding.

“I’m going to rely upon not only the applicant and the material that was submitted but also the work of the staff,” said Councilor Mike Harris. “There’s a lot of language and protections that within the covenants I feel protect not only the city, but also more importantly the owners of the property and those downhill.”

The council’s vote came after the council spent close to five hours discussing the matter last month, ultimately postponing a decision with the hope that the two opposing sides would reach a compromise.

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