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Santolina Meeting Disrupted

Santolina Meeting Disrupted

Officials say Santolina delay in getting data to them led to 60-day Continuance

Project’s Zoning Request Suffers Setback

Opponents Score Rare Victory


Santolina opponents dressed as zombies disrupted a meeting of the Bernalillo County Planning Commission, which may have had a chilling effect as planning officials pushed back the expected date of the project’s next zoning hearing into January.

Opponents, who made post-Halloween use of their zombie outfits and makeup on Nov. 2, had expected to suffer another defeat, but commissioners chastised Santolina’s backers for providing requested information only at 4 p.m. Tuesday — too late, they said, to make an informed decision.

The planning commissioners voted 5-1 for a 60-day delay before the project will be heard again. Three commissioners said neither they nor the public have enough information to evaluate the project.

The next hearing for the 14,000-acre far West Side development will come on Nov. 18, when the county commission hears the developers’ request for authority to create tax incremental development district. TIDDs allow a portion of taxes generated by a new development to pay for infrastructure such as roads, water lines and sewers.

The proposal by Santolina would divert up to 75 percent of future gross receipts tax revenues generated by sales of goods within the mixed-use retail-residential development, and up to 45 percent of future property tax revenues to the developers, according to a resolution working its way through the county approval process.

Opponents charge that when Santolina was first proposed, its backers said no taxpayer dollars would be used to support it. Opponents, including the Southwest Organizing Project, charge that Santolina will destroy the farming culture of the South Valley and take water from other uses.

Photo courtesy of guardian.com.

Photo courtesy of guardian.com.

Western Albuquerque Land Holdings LLC, successor to the Atrisco Land Grant, is the developer.

“The developer has committed to pay 100 percent of the project infrastructure,” attorney John Salazar, who represents WALH, to the commission on May 28, 2015, during hearings on the Santolina master plan. And there’s no request for a subsidy. There’s been no request that the county provide incentives to bring this project to the county.”

Later, Salazar added, “There will be no subsidy for the developer.”

Just eight months later, though, Santolina officials asked the county to divert $2 billion of future county gross receipts and property tax money to the project to reimburse it for any infrastructure it builds. That request came in the form of  a Feb. 29 application by Santolina for 40 TIDDs districts for the project that’s west of 118th Street and south of I-40.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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