Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Development moratorium extended for Los Ranchos

The intersection of Fourth St. and Osuna Rd. in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, as seen in 2002. (Dean Hanson/)

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Los Ranchos de Albuquerque trustees voted 3-0 to extend until the end of December a moratorium on applications for the village’s Pilot Project and Conservation Development program, which requires a developer to give a percentage of a project site to the village for use as open space .

The vote, taken during a special trustees meeting on Wednesday, is the latest ripple in a controversy that has been boiling since village residents became aware this past summer that four high-density development projects – one of which had received final approval – were in the Works for the Fourth and Osuna area.

That news was unacceptable for many residents of a village incorporated in 1958 in an effort to retain a rural and agricultural lifestyle. More than 600 residents signed a petition requesting that the mayor and trustees impose a moratorium on high-density projects.

“I’m not anti-development, but we would like quality development, not quantity development,” said Joe Craig, president of the Friends of Los Ranchos. “The identity of Los Ranchos is cranes and geese. We have open space and we have trails. And I’m all for that.”

On Aug. 15, village trustees responded by voting to put a moratorium on conservation development program applications until Sept. 30 and a moratorium on high-density developments in the village’s retail commercial zones until Nov. 30.

During Wednesday’s brief meeting, Village Administrator Ann Simon expressed the need to extend the moratorium deadline for conservation development applications.

“The village is looking at changes in the ordinance and this just gives us more time to get it right,” she said.

The moratoriums, however, affected only one of the four controversial projects which include:

• The Palindrome Development on the southeast corner of Fourth and Osuna, approved by village trustees in 2020, includes a three-story hotel; three apartment complexes, each three stories high; a 14,000-square-foot specialty grocery store; and up to 60 houses.
• Nijmegen Plaza Development, a 12-unit residential project at Willow and Fourth.
• Sandia View Development, apartment units on Sandia View, just west of Fourth.
• Chavez-Guadalupe Trail Cluster Development, 21 homes on 9.26 acres at the southwest corner of Chavez and Guadalupe Trail.

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The Sandia View project is subject to the retail commercial zone moratorium because developers did not file an application with the village before the moratorium was imposed.

And the Nijmegen project, which met all village ordinance requirements as they now stood, was approved by trustees at the Sept. 14 meeting.

The massive Palindrome project is underground. Buildings which had occupied the project site have been demolished. However, the project is the target of a complaint filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court earlier this month on behalf of the Friends of Los Ranchos. The complaint states that the village acted improperly in designating the project site as blighted and selling the property to Palindrome, a Portland, Oregon, development company, for $1 per parcel.

“It did not meet the definition of blight or slum,” Craig said. “If it did, you would have to blight the whole North Valley.”

The Chavez-Guadalupe project is scheduled for review at a future trustees meeting. The project is the first and to date only applicant for the village’s conservation development program, but despite the required percentage of open space, villagers decry turning a grassy 9 acres of bird and animal refuge into cluster housing.

“Everyone is in favor of conservation, but not high-density development in the guise of conservation,” said Robert Chavez of Keep Los Ranchos Rural.

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