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Council set to vote on new rules for zoning

The Albuquerque City Council is considering changes to the Integrated Development Ordinance, including amendments involving liquor and nicotine retailers. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The Albuquerque City Council could vote as early as Thursday on new zoning rules that would expand opportunities for RV parks, car dealers and drive-thrus, while reducing areas where liquor and nicotine retail is automatically allowed.

It could also set rules for where and when cannabis shops can operate now that New Mexico has legalized recreational marijuana.

It is all part of the second annual update to the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance. The council has a special meeting devoted to the IDO at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Many of the potential IDO amendments already have been passed by the council’s Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee and are incorporated into the bill currently pending before the full council. However, councilors still have the opportunity to reconsider them or change them before a final vote.

Amendments in that stage of the process would:

• Allow RV parks to operate in more zones across the city, which sponsor Councilor Diane Gibson said is partly a response to the growing culture of people – like “digital nomads” – living life on the road

• Make it easier to establish drive-thrus in mixed-use, low-intensity zones, eliminating the requirement to get conditional use approval from a zoning hearing examiner

• Increase areas where auto dealers and rental companies can have outdoor vehicle displays

• Make liquor and nicotine retail a conditional – rather than permissive – use in certain mixed-use and commercial zones, except as part of general or grocery stores

• Reduce the time the public has to request a facilitated meeting about certain site plan applications – those that require only an administrative, rather than board or commission, decision – to 10 days from 15

The cannabis-related proposals have not been passed – or even voted on – by the council’s LUPZ committee and are therefore not yet incorporated into the IDO update bill.

The council can still vote to add them, but will likely have to pick between some competing proposals.

Mayor Tim Keller’s administration, for example, wants cannabis retail locations at least 1,000 feet apart from each other and from “adult” entertainment or retail businesses, but would not ban multiple licensees from operating on the same premises. Councilor Pat Davis, meanwhile, is proposing a 600-foot distance between cannabis shops, but his proposal would still allow them to pursue conditional approval to operate inside that buffer.

Other potential amendments include Keller’s proposal to ban cannabis retailers from abutting streets designated as Main Street corridors – such as large parts of Central Avenue – and from allowing customers between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

For more detailed information about the amendments, go to and look under the “2020 IDO Annual Update.”

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