About two-and-a-half hours into the meeting, De La Cruz attempted to shut down debate by calling for strict adherence to Roberts Rules of Order
The Bernalillo County Commission approved the development agreement with the owners of the proposed Santolina development on the far West Mesa, but only after sometimes contentious debate and an effort by one commission to shut down the entire discussion.
The 3-2 vote Wednesday to approve the 17-page agreement, or contract, between the county and the developer, came after commissioners Debbie O’Malley and Maggie Hart Stebbins proposed at least a dozen amendments to change the agreement. Most of the proposed amendments were defeated on 3-2 votes with commissioners Wayne Johnson, Art De La Cruz and Lonnie Talbert voting against them.
The vote to approve the development agreement broke along the same lines.
The majority shot down an amendment that would have required the developer and owner, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings LLC, to have no more than 50 percent of the jobs at the 14,000-acre development in the retail sector. Also defeated was a proposal to require the developer to include economic base jobs in its mix of jobs.
An economic base job is one where 60 percent or more if the goods or services it produces is sold to people in other states or countries. Economic base jobs bring new money into a community and are the only jobs that grow an economy.
Stebbins’ efforts to add language into some sections to reiterate that the county would not be obligated to provide public funding for the project were also defeated.
The subject of tax increment development districts, or TIDDS, resurfaced, with O’Malley saying she believed the developer would be back at a later date to ask or them. TIDDS are considered a form of public subsidy for developers.
O’Malley also objected to language in two sections that she said barred the county from opposing any agreements the developer might make with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority or the local flood-control authority, AMAFCA. The section regarding AMAFCA read: “The County will not promote, support or enact any ordinance, legislation or policy that interferes with and/or restricts the Owner’s use of AMAFCA existing and/or future infrastructure and/or agreements between the Owner and AMAFCA, as long as that use does not diminish or otherwise negatively affect current County flood or drainage infrastructure.”
O’Malley said the language basically barred the commission from discussing or acting on important policy decisions. “Why would we restrict ourselves?” she asked. “We can’t say anything about any project in any way about AMAFCA. This unnecessarily restricts our ability to weigh in.”
About two-and-a-half hours into the meeting, De La Cruz attempted to shut down debate by calling for strict adherence to Roberts Rules of Order, which limits the amount of time that members of a body can speak on individual issues. He said commissioners were limited to 10 minutes for each proposed amendment and called for a vote on the agreement as previously amended. That angered Stebbins and O’Malley, who still had may more amendments to propose.
“I resent this attempt to shut down debate. This deserves public scrutiny. This is very contrary to the Commissions normal procedures,” Stebbins said.
— Dennis Domrzalski
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