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SF residents challenge Estancias del Norte approval

SANTA FE – A Santa Fe neighborhood association is asking a district court judge to void city government’s approval of construction of a 49-home development near downtown, arguing that the city violated its own open meetings resolution and the state’s Open Meetings Act.

The Greater Callecita Neighborhood Association has for decades fought various iterations of proposals to build an upscale housing development on 40.5 acres of property east of Bishop’s Lodge Road and north of Hyde Park Road.

Among its arguments is that the terrain is “topographically unsuitable,” as new homes would be built in a hilly area above the existing neighborhood. Residents say that the Estancias del Norte subdivision approved by the Planning Commission in March — a decision upheld by the City Council in August — could leave them vulnerable to rain runoff and erosion that could cause damage to their homes and that the developer would not be liable.

Developer Ernie Romero has argued that he has spent tens of thousands of dollars on drainage and erosion control and that he has met all the requirements of the city Land Use Department.

The lawsuit states the city’s open meetings resolution calls for notice of meetings to be posted 72 hours prior to a meeting, with an agenda available for public view.

But by the city’s own admission the city Clerk’s Office inadvertently left notice of the Planning Commission’s March 1 meeting off the city website where it normally posts agendas the Friday before. The lawsuit says notice wasn’t posted until the day before the meeting at which the Planning Commission approved a preliminary plat and a variance request that allows Estancias del Norte to be built.

The neighborhood association is asking a judge to remand the case back to the city with instructions to vacate the Planning Commission’s action, rendering it null and void.

A spokesman for city government said the city typically does not comment on pending litigation.