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Plan for higher density worries Mariposa residents

A group of Mariposa residents worry that they may lose what drew them to the neighborhood in the first place — its natural beauty.

Last month, Harvard Investments, the Arizona firm that bailed Mariposa out of a financial bind in 2014 when original developer High Desert Investment Corp. pulled out, asked the City of Rio Rancho to amend the area’s zoning designations.

Mariposa is zoned E-1 for estate residential, R-1 for low-density single-family residential, and R-4, or single-family residential mixed use, which allows for higher density. Harvard has requested that the city amend the zoning to allow 695 acres of R-4 zoning. The original plans called for 227 acres of R-4.

Terry Merkley, Mariposa resident, told the Rio Rancho Observer that she is just looking for Harvard to include some guarantees.

“As residents, we bought into a certain vision and now (Harvard Investments) is looking at ending that vision,” Merkley said. “They haven’t provided us anything in writing, no guarantees about protecting open space, protecting our existing trails or providing adequate buffers for those of us that have E-1 lots.”

Tim Brislin, vice president for Harvard Investments, said the company is complying with Mariposa’s Mariposa Master Plan.

“We are adhering to the guiding principles of the master plan: Protect critical arroyos, preserve important open spaces and provide a variety of housing opportunities for future residents,” Brislin wrote in an email.

Brislin said the Mariposa Preserve, which includes over 2,100 acres of pristine land, remains untouched with the amended request.

“The application maintains two key metrics of the existing master plan: (A) The maximum lot count of 2,500 single-family units does not change, and (B) the minimum open space requirement for the master plan of 412 acres does not change and we expect to exceed it,” he said. “Harvard intends to work with the city through the future platting process to ensure open spaces and trails are thoughtfully considered and maintained with future development.”

Editor’s note: A longer version of this story is available at

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