OCTOBER 26, 2004

 Present from Las Cruces Planning and Zoning Commission: Commissioners Binnewig, Ford, Ludtke, Camunez, and Buchman (Chair).  Absent: Commissioners Young and Sanchez.

 A packed council chambers foretold an emotional commission meeting.  As a warm-up to the main event, the commission unanimously approved a site plan amendment to rearrange the zoning in the second phase of a development west of Del Rey Blvd.  Although existing residents objected to the switch from single-family residential to apartments on the tract abutting their properties, the commission seemed swayed by the applicant’s arguments that a retaining wall and the architectural design of the apartments would protect the privacy of existing homes.

 The commission then considered a master plan and associated zone changes for a 200-acre development west of Oņate High School.  The well-organized residents of the Jornada South subdivision were opposed to the high density of the development that was proposed, noting that the commission had recently approved several new developments capable of housing some 30,000 new residents north of Highway 70.  To buffer their existing neighborhood, the developer proposed a strip of large lot, equestrian estate zoning between Jornada South and the higher density R-1a zoning in the interior of the proposed development. 

 The residents presented a counter-proposal, laced with quotations from the City’s comprehensive plan, in which all the residential tracts would be zoned as equestrian estates. During the discussion, the commissioners clarified access issues, both for the existing neighborhood (which would, at the neighborhood’s own request, end up with a single access point) and the new development (which would require NM Department of Transportation approval of new access from the Highway 70 frontage road).

 The master plan and zone changes were voted on separately.  The master plan was approved (Binnewig and Camunez dissenting), whereas the zone changes were not (Buchman also dissenting).  The master plan decision can be appealed to City Council; the zone change is automatically forwarded to council for final action.

Nancy Stotz

League of Women Voters