South Valley Community Alliance

Where Condos Don't Belong

A 27-unit condominium complex would be catastrophic for the semi-rural Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood.

November 09, 2019

We told you a couple months ago that South Valley Community Alliance is suing Bernalillo County to prevent a 27-unit condominium complex from being built in the South Valley. Since then, more than forty individuals have donated over $3,000 to our legal fund, allowing us to fully fund our appeal to District Court. That appeal and our Motion to Supplement the Record are now “fully briefed” and awaiting the judge’s determination.

The judge could take several weeks or months to issue a ruling. That’s great news. Delays are good for the community — we’re raising money while the developer is losing money. And if the District Court decision isn’t favorable, we’ll appeal to the New Mexico Court of Appeals. A decision from that court would take years.

We’re feeling good about the current state of the appeal, and we hope you are too. Now we’d like to tell you more about the place we’re defending.

Meet the Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood

The Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood (translated as “Neighbors of the Forest”) is located just west of the Rio Grande river, between Central and Bridge. It’s best characterized as a semi-rural area. Single-family homes on large lots are intermixed with ample open space and agricultural land. Horses, cows, goats, and chickens are a common sight in this neighborhood located approximately ten minutes away from downtown Albuquerque. One thing that’s noticeably absent, however, is apartment complexes.

All that will change if the developer, Rio Grande Huerta LLC, succeeds in building its proposed 27-unit condominium complex on the 3.83 acre agriculturally-zoned lot located next to Rio Grande Valley State Park at 1300 Gonzales Rd. SW.

Cohousing ABQ

Our attorney says the proposed development would be “catastrophic” for the Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood. It would open the floodgates for denser developments, which would destroy the unique semi-rural character of the neighborhood, leading in turn to even more development.

Bernalillo County: Toady for moneyed interests

If you’re thinking there must be some kind of policy or law against building a development like the one Rio Grande Huerta LLC has proposed for this location, you’re right! The county’s zoning ordinance and various adopted planning documents contain numerous policies and requirements designed to prohibit dense development on agriculturally-zoned land adjacent to open space.

The problem isn’t the laws and policies. The problem is that Bernalillo County refuses to follow its laws and policies.

As residents, we feel betrayed by our government. We resent the fact that county employees and elected officials are working on behalf of moneyed interests and a private company that doesn’t respect the wants and needs of our neighborhood and the greater South Valley community.

“There is likely to be opposition.”

Even Rio Grande Huerta LLC apparently knows that its proposed development doesn’t belong here.

South Valley Community Alliance filed more than a dozen Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) requests to obtain email messages sent between the developer and Bernalillo County. Those email messages show that Rio Grande Huerta LLC was aware that the Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood wouldn’t want the development.

“There is likely to be opposition,” a company representative wrote county officials in June 2018, nearly six months before the company applied for the special use permit. The representative said that she “wasn’t convinced [the land] would be likely to be approved for rezoning.”

Bernalillo County has refused to add those email messages to the appeal record.

Diverging visions of the future of Vecinos del Bosque

Will Bernalillo County’s legally flawed decision be upheld, paving the way for multistory monstrosities? Or will the community be allowed to have real input in the process and control its destiny? The future of the Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood hangs in the balance.

We’ll keep you updated. For now, understand that “no news is good news” — delays are good for the community.

If you haven’t donated yet, it’s not too late to make a contribution! This battle could drag on for years, and all donations will help pay our legal fees. Thank you for your continued support!

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