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LOS RANCHOS DE ALBUQUERQUE – Three hours of public comment dominated a Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Board of Trustees meeting that was adjourned late Wednesday without action on hot-button items related to controversial high-density development projects in the village.
Just after 10 p.m., the board voted 3-2 to adjourn and continue the meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.
Trustees were about to discuss a pair of resolutions aimed at tamping back a recent trend in high-density projects in the Fourth Street and Osuna Road area of the village.
One resolution proposes a moratorium on applications for the village’s recently minted Pilot Project and Conservation Development program. The second resolution proposes a moratorium on high-density residential development in the C-1 (retail commercial) Zone south of Osuna and Chavez Road.
However, Mayor Donald T. Lopez and trustees Sandra Pacheco and Allen Lewis voted in favor of adjourning. Trustees Gilbert Benavides and George Radnovich voted unsuccessfully to continue the meeting, which started at 5 p.m. and was attended by a crowd of constituents that spilled outside the board chambers.
Lopez suggested the adjournment, noting that the hour was late, that several hours discussion of the proposed moratoriums was anticipated and that many of the people who had jammed themselves into Village Hall earlier had left the meeting.
“Why not have the moratorium discussion when we are fresh,” Lopez said. “There are people who are no longer here who I know would want to be part of the discussion.”
Make it nice
Last month, more than 600 people signed a petition requesting that the mayor and trustees initiate a moratorium on high-density projects until a survey of villagers determined how the majority viewed that kind of development. The village was founded in 1958 to avoid annexation by Albuquerque and to retain Los Ranchos’ rural identity and agricultural lifestyle.
The resolutions proposing moratoriums appear to be a response to the petitioners’ concerns.
On Wednesday, more than 40 people spoke out during the public comment period, all but a couple of them opposed to development they fear will bring more traffic and noise into Los Ranchos and threaten the small-town character of the village.
“I don’t know what the thought process was that what is going to be built at Fourth and Osuna is anything the villagers would want,” village resident Tom Donelan told the mayor and trustees. “Don’t let this development at Fourth and Osuna be your legacy.”
There are four developments – one approved in 2020, one nearing approval and two in the early stages of the process – at or near Fourth and Osuna.
• The Palindrome project, already approved and about to break ground, is at the southeast corner of Fourth and Osuna. It includes a three-story hotel with 30 to 50 units on the second and third floors, small restaurants and retail spaces on the first level and a space for events; an apartment complex with 204 units split between three, three-story buildings; a 14,000-square-foot specialty grocery store; and up to 60 houses.
• Nijmegen Plaza Development, a 12-unit residential project at Fourth and Willow, just south of the Palindrome site. It is in the final stages of the approval process.
• Sandia View Development, apartment units on Sandia View just west of Fourth street and the Palindrome project.
• Chavez-Guadalupe Trail Cluster Development, 21 homes on 9.26 acres at the southwest corner of Chavez and Guadalupe Trail.
Cynthia Sylvester, who lives on Willow Road, is concerned about the high-traffic future of that street.
“No one is against development,” she said. “But make it nice.”
Village administrators say that all development plans are in accord with village ordinances and that agendas for Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Trustees meetings are posted on the village website and that videos of those meetings are also posted on the website.
But villagers say notice of complex issues may be posted only a couple of days before a meeting and that it appears that the Palindrome project was finalized during the height of the COVID pandemic when the village was doing meetings via Zoom.
“This was all happening during COVID,” villager Michelle Smiley said at Wednesday’s meeting. “When we were washing down our groceries and going to funerals on Zoom my village government was planing this hotel and I’m just finding out about it.”