We continue to fight approval of mega-development west of Albuquerque

In June, we told you about a tremendous victory that we won in state Court in this case: the judge reversed Santolina’s zone change from “Agricultural” to “Planned Community”.

We need you to help stop this juggernaut! Please join us at the Bernalillo County Commission’s next hearing on Santolina!

WHEN: Tuesday, August 15 at 5pm. Hearing to be continued on August 30 if necessary.

WHERE: Vincent E. Griego Chambers, City/County Building, One Civic Plaza, NW [Map]

Despite this ruling – which voids all of the subsequent decisions on the project – Bernalillo County is moving forward with hearings on the proposal’s Level B.1 plan. Worse, it’s considering an ill-advised plan by the developer to shove the proof-of-water requirements that Santolina should have done during its Level A and Level B phases down to the Level C phase.

This is exceedingly dangerous for several reasons.

First, it means that the Bernalillo County Commission (BCC) is making decisions about allowing a new 93,000-person city (roughly the size of Rio Rancho) without critical answers about water supply – primarily where is Santolina planning to get the 12.6 million gallons of water that it will need every day? This question was supposed to be answered in 2015 before the BCC approved the Level A plan. But the BCC ignored the rules so that Santolina could prove its water as part of its Level B.1 submittals.

Now the developer wants even more. Wait until the final Level C process before you make us show that we have water, the developers asked. Frighteningly, the County Planning Commission said it’s a good idea, and recommended that the BCC approve it. And the Planning Commissioners did so in spite of a conflict of interest and improperly admitted evidence (see our appeal Part I and Part II for all the sordid details.)

Second, this marks the last time that we (the public) and elected officials will have the opportunity to weigh in on this project. Because of maneuvering by the developer and County Commissioners in 2015, Santolina’s final approvals will be handled by the County Development Review Authority, which has no oversight by elected officials or mechanism for public input. (Santolina case page)

This hearing is important, and we hope you can join us. In the words of Norm Gaume, architect of the 1997 Albuquerque Water Resources Management Strategy, here’s what’s at stake:

If the panel makes the wrong decision – to ignore water – and the Bernalillo County Commission approves that decision later this summer, the outcome will jeopardize our region’s public water supply, negatively impact local consumers, and affect taxpayers throughout the state.

Read his entire op-ed here. We hope that you will join us and our clients on August 15 for this important fight.