August 18, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The Bernalillo County Commission voted 4-0 in favor of an amended Santolina Level A Master Plan and 3-0 to approve the Level B.II Master plan during their 4-hour-long hearing on Tuesday, August 16. Commissioner Pyskoty was absent for both votes, and Commissioner Barboa lost her internet connection during the second vote. She had indicated an intention to support both plans during the discussion.

The Level A Master Plan was approved by the County back in 2015, but the massive housing development has never been built. The original plan called for 37,000 homes for approximately 95,000 people that would use more than 3.8 billion gallons of water per year. However, the developers, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings and Consensus Planning, Inc., have never been able to obtain the required water availability agreement from the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

Without any commitment for the water, developers instead asked the County to approve a project that would not require any demonstration of water availability, seeking to develop only about 630 acres of the 13,700 total acres for a tire recycling plant, a landfill, and other vaguely described uses. 

On March 2nd, the County Planning Commission recommended denial of both plans because the developers could not adequately justify the changes to the Level A Master Plan and could not explain where any water required for the Level B.II plan would come from. Despite the CPC’s recommendation for denial, all Bernalillo County Commission members who were present voted in support of both plans, even after receiving scathing criticism from the public who were 100 percent opposed to both plans. Of the many people who spoke during public comment, all were opposed. Not one person spoke in favor of the Santolina project. …