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City Council OKs new comprehensive plan for Duke City

Albuquerque city councilors voted late Monday to approve a rewrite of the city’s comprehensive plan, rejecting requests to delay approval for 14 to 16 months to allow for more public input into the process.

The comprehensive plan and two associated measures were adopted by 6-2 votes, following an exhaustive discussion. Councilor Brad Winter was absent.

City Councilor Ken Sanchez

City Councilor Ken Sanchez

Voting against the comprehensive plan were Councilors Ken Sanchez and Klarissa Peña. Both had asked for the comprehensive plan to be deferred for 90 days.

“I believe this is a major change to the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan,” Sanchez said. He made the motion for the deferral, saying he doesn’t think the community has had enough time to provide input.

Peña said she wanted community members to have more time so they don’t feel that the comprehensive plan was forced on them.

“I do support the update,” she said. “I don’t want to be forced to vote against it.”

But Council President Isaac Benton argued against the 60-day extension, saying he believes the comprehensive plan is sound and that the process used to develop it was a good one.

Councilors rejected the request for the 90-day deferral.

“Everyone is not always going to be satisfied,” Benton said. “This is policy, it’s a policy document. It’s full of good policies, stronger protections. I think we need to pass this. I strongly feel we need to move on.”

The two-year rewrite of the plan, also known as the ABC-Z project, is aimed at bringing clarity and predictability to development regulations. Among other things, the plan strives to improve protection for the city’s established neighborhoods, and respond to long-standing water and traffic challenges by promoting more sustainable development, according to the city’s website.

The council began consideration of the comprehensive plan at its March 6 meeting, fielding comments from more than 50 community members. But it ended up continuing the measure until Monday’s meeting.

Roughly two dozen community members showed up to speak at Monday’s council meeting.

Steven and Esther Abeyta, who reside in the San Jose neighborhood, told councilors they feared the plan, as written, would not do enough to protect neighborhoods like theirs from businesses that pollute. City staff countered that the new comprehensive plan actually contains greater protections for neighborhoods.

Loretta Naranjo Lopez, who lives in Martineztown, said she worried that her neighborhood would lose its identity under the proposed comprehensive plan. Naranjo Lopez, president of Martineztown Work Group/Albuquerque Interfaith, was one of several speakers who asked the council to postpone action on the plan for 14 to 16 months.

But the plan also garnered support from some business owners and community members.

Nique Bell, president of the Santa Barbara/Martineztown Neighborhood Association, said she feels the new comprehensive plan would give her community greater protections.

John Garcia, executive vice president of Home Builders of Central New Mexico, told councilors that he represented more than 700 builders.

“We stand in support of the comp plan without amendments that could delay its implementation,” he said.

Before adopting the comp plan, the council took up more than 30 amendments and ended up adopting 17 of them.

It rejected one amendment that would have effectively delayed implementation of the plan by five years.

Now that the comprehensive plan has been adopted, city staff will begin work on the integrated development ordinance, a series of regulations that will replace sector plans.