Bernalillo County Commissioners voted to approve the Santolina development agreement in a contentious meeting Wednesday. The plan could bring about 40,000 new homes to a privately owned development on the West Mesa outside of Albuquerque.
The 3-to-2 vote to approve Santolina came after hours of debate over the language in the agreement.
Protesters and acequia farmers sat through the hearing with tape over their mouths—a symbolic objection to the commission’s decision not to allow public comment.
Juan Reynosa is with the Southwest Organizing Project. He said opponents like him will continue their efforts to fight the project that they say will threaten water resources and livelihoods of people in Albuquerque.
"We’re thinking about a lot of different strategies, from trying to bring a bigger public presence to this to some potential legal strategies," he said.
Supporters of the plan disagree. They say Santolina will bolster the economy and bring much-needed jobs to the western part of the county.
The next meeting on Santolina will take place in August.