- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 7, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two commissioners are being accused of bias for voicing support for a master plan in an area that developers say could be home to 90,000 residents in the coming decades.

The Santolina Master Plan was approved 3-2, with supporters saying it creates a process and zoning for organized growth on 22 acres west of Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1CXZns7).

Opponents filed a lawsuit late last month asking a judge to scrap the plan’s approval because Bernalillo County commissioners Art De La Cruz and Wayne Johnson expressed bias ahead of the vote in columns published by the Journal.

The lawsuit says the two commissioners deprived project opponents of a quasi-judicial procedure and their rights to impartial consideration and due process.

Those against the master plan say it would stress the area’s water supply and detract resources from the rest of the city.

De La Cruz, Johnson and county attorneys say commissioners were free to talk about the plan publicly.

The plan is the largest ever considered in Bernalillo County and county attorneys said its size made it a legislative matter that commissioners were allowed to express opinions on.

Johnson said it’s his duty to inform constituents about possible policies or laws.

“I am not prohibited as a policymaker or legislator from stating a position on any particular subject,” he said.

De La Cruz says he submitted an opinion piece supporting planning rather than specific issues discussed by the commission leading up to the plan’s approval.

He said while he doesn’t entirely agree with what the developer has proposed for the area, he also doesn’t agree that he was biased in his vote.

“I don’t agree with their premise,” he said.

Another lawsuit filed against the master plan in May is pending.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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