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Santolina column sparks much debate

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bernalillo County is dedicating two days later this week to consideration of the enormous Santolina Master Plan.

De La Cruz: He wrote of support for development

De La Cruz: He wrote of support for development

But the debate is already rather intense.

Santolina opponents on Monday took aim at County Commissioner Art De La Cruz for writing a Journal column that outlined his support for the development.

They said it was inappropriate for the commissioner to state a position on something that he is supposed to consider during a quasi-judicial hearing, which doesn’t start until Wednesday.

For some land-use and zoning decisions, county commissioners are supposed to act as judges who consider only the law and arguments in the record.

But County Attorney Randy Autio said Monday that consideration of the Santolina Master Plan is a “legislative act,” not quasi-judicial. Commissioners, then, are free to state their opinions.

Nevertheless, I expect De La Cruz’s comments – premature or not – to get plenty of attention when testimony on the plan begins.

APS board speaks up

The school board also is weighing in.

The Board of Education for Albuquerque Public Schools adopted a resolution last week asking Bernalillo County to reject the master plan “until the issues of school financing, transportation, water and infrastructure have been adequately addressed.”

The board said the roughly 38,000 homes proposed in the Santolina Master Plan – that’s a long-range estimate after 40 or 50 years – would require taxpayer approval of $681 million for construction of 15 elementary schools, four middle schools and two high schools.

The Santolina development team, meanwhile, said that as Santolina grows, so, too, would the tax base.

In a news release, a representative of the property owners said: “It is perplexing that the Board of Education made (its) requests based on incorrect assumptions that issues such as school financing, transportation and water infrastructure were not being addressed when, in fact, they have been addressed, reviewed and approved by the professionals of Bernalillo County’s Planning and Engineering staff and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.”

Not so fast

City Hall’s effort to bring faster, cheaper Internet service to the Central Avenue corridor hit a bit of a snag.

The city of Albuquerque received no good offers in response to a request for proposals from companies interested in building out the fiber optics and other infrastructure needed for faster broadband.

The plan now is for the city to undertake some of the work itself, perhaps as part of the construction that would happen for the Bus Rapid Transit system down Central. The city also wants to work with the University of New Mexico on the project.