New Mexico's highest court will decide the legality of a proposed 27-unit condominium complex in the semi-rural Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood.
September 28, 2020
We told you last year that South Valley Community Alliance was suing Bernalillo County to prevent a 27-unit condominium complex from being built in the South Valley. Today, we’re proud to announce that we’ve appealed this case to the New Mexico Supreme Court. The state’s highest court will ultimately decide the legality of this development in the coming months.
To all of our supporters in the South Valley and beyond: Thank you for your support. We never would have gotten this far without your financial assistance and grassroots efforts. Your actions embody the best of New Mexico!
The Bernalillo County Planning Department met with the developer in closed meetings and advanced the idea for using a “special use permit” for the condominium project even though the application did not meet the “special use permit” criteria specified in the County Zoning Ordinance.
The Bernalillo County Planning Commission (CPC) approved the application and recited the criteria formalistically, but did not address the criteria factually.
The Bernalillo County Commission (BCC) did not discuss the criteria, refused to consider the evidence and arguments we submitted, and simply copied the CPC decision.
The District Court approved the BCC decision on a new basis (not that the criteria were satisfied, but that satisfaction of the criteria was not necessary), effectively erasing the criteria specified in the County Zoning Ordinance.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals refused to hear our case.
For years, weak rule of law has allowed deep-pocketed developers to buy their way into the South Valley with devastating results. When it comes to this particular development, even the subservient Planning Department was forced to admit that “the proposed density, building design and layout are not consistent with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.”
The cardinal sin in this case was allowing the condominium project to proceed on a “special use permit.” It essentially amounted to an on-the-fly rewriting of the law, and it was tailored to this particular project. This case concerns all property owners since it ultimately means that the stability of zoning in Bernalillo County is an illusion!
What irritates us to no end is that we’ve never received a fair hearing, or due process, or even an explanation as to why the circular, irrational “logic” in the decisions on this case are acceptable. All we’ve received so far are repetitive, patronizing responses that can be summed up as: “Because we said so.”
Why aren’t officials following the law, and why aren’t courts enforcing it? The answer to that question isn’t clear, but we do know one thing: Enough is enough.
All elected representatives and public servants working in the State of New Mexico are required to uphold and abide by the Constitution of New Mexico which states, in part, that “all political power is vested in and derived from the people: all government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will and is instituted solely for their good.”
Sounds great, right? Sadly, officials are increasingly ignoring the law and turning a blind eye towards the people they’re supposed to be representing. Instead, they’re catering to special interest groups and deep-pocketed developers. Just look at Santolina. Companies are being represented as first-class citizens — residents aren’t.
It’s high time we regained control of our local and state government. The future of our neighborhoods depends on it!
This is our last stand. We’re counting on the Supreme Court to do the right thing — to finally give us a fair hearing and enforce the law. Is that too much to ask?
At the end of the day, all we really want is justice. Our hope is that the Supreme Court will see that the public servants working on this case did so with flexible morals. If the Supreme Court approaches this case with open eyes, it will see that our “elected representatives” have not represented us in this matter and that this case was rigged from the beginning. The future of our neighborhood hangs in the balance.
We’ll keep you updated. In the meantime, we appreciate your continued support.