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Residents complain Santa Fe was not open about its choice for Midtown campus developer

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is investigating complaints brought forth by a group of residents that the city of Santa Fe violated the Open Meetings Act while selecting a master developer for the 64-acre Midtown campus. But the city says the process it used to select Dallas-based KDC Real Estate Development & Investments/Cienda Partners to oversee the redevelopment of the former campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design is within the law.

The residents claim details of the city’s process for selecting a master developer were not made available to the public before the final decision was made Monday.

“We request that the City immediately roll back any actions or determinations made in a closed meeting and provide the required public participation into this project affecting our lives and property,” retired schoolteacher Maria Bautista wrote in an email to Mayor Alan Webber.

The email was also forwarded to Attorney General Hector Balderas. Attorney General Office’s spokesman Matt Baca said Friday the complaint “is under review” and he does not know when a finding will be issued.

A. Blair Dunn, Bautista’s attorney, said they have not yet filed an official Open Meetings Act violation complaint with the AG. He said he and Bautista are considering filing a lawsuit against the city, unless city officials can remedy the problem on their own.

Former Santa Fe city councilor and Santa Fe County commissioner Miguel Chavez, one of the residents behind the complaint, said he is worried about any potential decisions the city council could have taken while not in public.

“It really centers around transparency and how the Open Meetings Act can be skirted with a rolling quorum, where decisions are being made,” he said.

Two city councilors, Renee Villareal and JoAnne Vigil Coppler, voted against approving the new developer on Monday, saying the public was given little information beforehand.

At that same meeting, City Attorney Erin McSherry said that the Request for Expressions of Interest process the city used, which is intended to prevent proprietary information from being disclosed, is allowable under the procurement code.

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