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No compromise on Santa Fe development

SANTA FE – There apparently will be no compromise over a huge assisted living project proposed for Santa Fe’s East Side, putting the controversial proposal back in the City Council’s lap.

The president of the neighborhood association opposing the 84-bed MorningStar Senior Living center planned at Old Pecos Trail and Calle San Sebastian says mediation over downsizing the proposed 73,550 square foot facility “would not be productive.”

A letter Monday from Southeast Neighborhood Association President Jim Dyke says the association met with representatives of MorningStar and its partner in the project, Denver-based Confluent Development, on Sept. 15, in an effort to find a compromise.

“However, in light of MorningStar’s position that it cannot reduce the size and scope of the proposed facility there is, regrettably, no opportunity for a compromise,” he wrote. Dyke wrote that the developers “explained during the meeting that the proposed facility cannot be any smaller because, they said, the project would not be economically viable if there was any reduction the number of assisted living units.” An attorney for MorningStar could not be reached for comment.

In a prepared statement, Mayor Javier Gonzales, who had urged the parties to attempt mediation, said, “It’s unfortunate that the two sides were unable to reach a consensus, but their willingness to sit down together and make an honest effort speaks volumes about Santa Fe. It’s something we should all be proud of, and an example of a better way of going about shaping our community’s future growth.”

At an Oct.14 meeting, the City Council is scheduled to reconsider the neighborhood group’s appeal of Planning Commission decisions in favor of the MorningStar facility.

Gonzales has been in the middle of the divisive debate. The City Council in July voted 5-4 to uphold the commission’s approval of the project, with Gonzales breaking the tie. The mayor faced criticism from some past supporters for his vote, and at Gonzales’ request, the council later voted to reconsider the matter. The mayor wanted the case remanded to the Planning Commission with hopes that a compromise could be worked out there. But in August, the council couldn’t agree on whether to send the case back to the commission or on any other subsequent action. The council instead agreed to a deferral to give the two sides time to discuss possible mediation.

The July council vote on MorningStar was split along geographic lines, with councilors from the less affluent south and west sides voting for the project and those from the affluent east and north sides voting against it. Opponents say the project is too big and out of character with the neighborhood and would ruin the scenic Old Pecos Trail route into town. Some councilors who voted for MorningStar said not all new development should be shoved to the south end of town.

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