KUNM

Santolina

Bernalillo County

Water has always been at the center of the controversy over Santolina, a massive project planned for over 20 square miles on a dusty mesa west of Albuquerque. The project got another boost Tuesday after officials voted to allow the project’s developers more time to come up with a plan for water use.

Mike Tungate via Wikimedia / creative commons license

The Bernalillo County Commission will hold another public meeting Tuesday on Santolina, a controversial 22-square mile residential development planned for an area west of Albuquerque.

Community Groups Take On Santolina In Court

Aug 31, 2016
Victoria Edwards/KUNM

Stories of outsiders coming to New Mexico to exploit the state's resources are nothing new – think Spanish colonization.

That’s how many critics see Santolina, a 22-square-mile development proposed for an area west of Albuquerque. But opponents of the project are fighting back in court.

Tax Benefits Proposal For Santolina Provokes Critique

Jul 29, 2016

Tax subsidies are often used as a kind of sweet carrot to incentivize developers to invest in abandoned or run down parts of cities, bringing resources where they wouldn’t go otherwise.

But critics of Santolina, a proposed 22 square mile housing development west of Albuquerque, say these subsidies shouldn’t be used for sprawling new suburban communities.

Victoria Edwards/KUNM

Some developers who build huge housing projects say it’s common sense to ask the community share in the cost of paying for public infrastructure.

Santolina Approval Stalls Without Water Contract

Jul 22, 2016
mtungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

 The Bernalillo County approval process for a huge housing development on Albuquerque’s west side stalled on Thursday.

The county planning commission chair blamed the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority for not working with Santolina developers to get a water contract in place that would spell out water availability for the 38,000-unit housing development.

Mike Tungate via Wikimedia Commons CC

The planned Santolina suburb on Albuquerque’s West Mesa has hit a potential snag: There is no agreement in place between the developers and the Water Authority, a mandatory pre-requisite for the next phase of the project. Without that agreement in place, Bernalillo County planners are hesitant to send up the second stage of Santolina’s plan for approval before the County Commission.  

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.

Bernalillo County Commission Approves Santolina

Jun 16, 2015
Kaveh Mowahed

Bernalillo County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to approve the Santolina Master Plan and zoning. The huge development west of Albuquerque is to include 38,000 homes, plus commercial and open space.

Commissioners spent a lot of time discussing Santolina’s jobs forecasts – developers say the plan would bring two jobs for each home built. This sparked a debate on the definition of the word “job.”

But critics say the jobs predictions are inflated.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

  Since the ’70s, people have been homesteading on the mesa near Albuquerque, just south of the proposed Santolina development. Bernalillo County says without official roads and permits, these Pajarito Mesa structures are illegal, but families are fighting to keep their homes.  

Scattered across Pajarito Mesa’s 18 thousand acres are gutted trailers, piles of tires battered by the sun and sandy dirt trails. Somewhere around 800 people are making a go of it here, despite the lack of modern conveniences like running water or an electrical grid. But there’s another side to the mesa. 

Commission To Consider Santolina Appeals

May 11, 2015
Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

Santolina developers and their opponents will appeal parts of the master plan for the 22-square-mile suburb at the Bernalillo County Commission meeting tonight.

Santolina was recommended for approval in December of 2014 by the planning commission.

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 5/7 8a: 

Bernalillo County commissioners are considering a residential development plan to build almost 40,000 new homes west of Albuquerque. Developers say it’s a smart, efficient way to plan for population growth and boost the local economy—but critics say it will hurt public health and burden dwindling water supplies. We’ll talk with Santolina’s planning team, public health researchers and South Valley farmers. 

Water A Concern For Santolina Critics, Hearing To Continue In May

Mar 26, 2015

Bernalillo County commissioners did not vote on whether to approve a controversial development plan at a hearing Thursday, instead scheduling additional time for public comments later this year.

Developers say the Santolina Master Plan community could someday be home to as many as 90,000 people.

Opponents spoke at a hearing this week in an effort to convince commissioners to vote down the plan. Many said Santolina would take away needed water resources in Albuquerque's South Valley.