- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A planned community west of Albuquerque that developers say could someday be home to as many as 90,000 people drew opponents to a routine zoning hearing Monday while commission opted not to make a final decision.

The Bernalillo County Commission, instead, heard more arguments about a planned project then declined to vote on the development known as Santolina.

During a confusing hearing, commissioners heard from proponents and opponents on appeals concerning the project and said they would continue the hearing - again - on May 28.

The nearly 22-square-mile development would rival some of New Mexico’s largest cities once completed. It’s the largest development master plan ever considered by Bernalillo County.

Opponents of the plan want county commissioners to vote down the development. They say the development would take away needed water resources in Albuquerque’s South Valley.



Jackie Garcia, a resident who opposes the development, said she was confused by commissioners haven’t voted down the project after hearing from residents in meeting after meeting.

“We are here once again repeating ourselves,” Garcia said. “Why don’t we invest in families who are already here instead of investing on the outside for hypothetical families?”

But supporters say the development would be subject to water conservation efforts and pointed to a finding by water officials that the develop would have enough resources.

Jim Strozier, principal of Consensus Planning, a group hired by Santolina’s developer, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, said he didn’t expect the commission to give final approval on the project on Monday but they eventually it would. “We are confident we’d address all rules and regulations from the county,” he said.

Santolina would be located along Interstate 40 and would have its own business parks and town center.

The website, santolinanm.com, set up by developer Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, says Santolina meets all the standards for expected water conservation.

In addition, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings said the new development complies with a requirement that it must generate revenues equal to or greater than expenses incurred by the county. Proponents also say it would bring jobs to the area.

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Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras

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