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ABQ councilors reject proposal to take up Santolina Master Plan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Santolina debate won’t make a pit stop at City Council after all.

City Councilor Trudy Jones won approval late Monday for a rare parliamentary move that killed the idea before it could even be introduced and scheduled for a future council meeting.

The debate centered on a resolution from City Councilor Isaac Benton, who wanted to ask the Bernalillo County Commission to grant the city a chance to provide input and coordinate on the county’s consideration of the Santolina Master Plan.

The master plan would grant new zoning and guide development on 22 acres atop the West Mesa, outside city limits near Interstate 40 and 118th Street. It’s the largest plan of its kind ever considered by the county.

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County commissioners have been considering the proposal for months, with the next meeting on the idea scheduled in two weeks.

But city councilors didn’t sound eager Monday to get involved. They voted 6-3 to remove Benton’s resolution from the council document that lists each piece of legislation being introduced for consideration.

Approval of the document, known as a “letter of introduction,” is routine at each council meeting, though sometimes bills are added. Removing one, however, is rare.

Jones and others said it was warranted in this case. The consideration of Santolina is outside the city’s jurisdiction, they said, and it wouldn’t be right for the council to insert itself at this point in the process.

Councilor Don Harris, who voted for removal, said he didn’t want to see the council hold an emotional meeting on Santolina with no practical effect on the outcome.

He noted that opponents of Santolina had printed fake money with the face of a county commissioner on it, under the words “Don’t play with our tax dollars.”

“This is very emotional and nasty thing,” Harris said. “It’s none of our business.”

Benton argued that it was perfectly reasonable for the council to weigh in, given the size of the proposed development and potential impact on city roads and resources.

“Why not have coordination and consultation with regard to a major development?” he asked.

Even if councilors didn’t want to approve the bill, Benton said, it’s worthwhile to at least have an open debate, as they do for other legislation..

Councilors Rey Garduño and Diane Gibson joined Benton, all Democrats, in favor of allowing the proposal to go forward.

Voting to remove it from the letter of introduction were Republicans Jones, Harris, Dan Lewis and Brad Winter, in addition to Democrats Ken Sanchez and Klarissa Peña.


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