ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city has made its decision in the ongoing fight between neighbors and developers who want to build houses right next to the Petroglyphs. The developers originally got approval to build houses in the area that were taller and with a smaller lot size than the standards allowed. Now, the city is saying, not so fast.
“Those approvals are no longer valid. They can’t vary from the standards like they tried to do,” says Planning Director Brennon Williams.
Last week, City Council approved an appeal that was sent in by Rene Horvath of the West Side Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. Horvath has been pushing back against the developers who want to build homes in the area around the Petroglyphs.
“I’m very pleased that our appeal was upheld,” says Horvath.
Initially, the city’s Environmental Planning Commission approved the developers’ request. Now, a Land Use Hearing Officer with the EPC ruled that the city planners shouldn’t have given the developers approval in the first place.
The EPC also says there are no special circumstances that would allow the developers to sway from the existing guidelines.
“There’s always the option for the developer to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different design. They can still build homes in this area,” says Williams.
While this is a win for Horvath, she believes the city needs to be more proactive in cases like this. “I don’t think it should be up to the neighbors to constantly have to appeal all these cases,” says Horvath.
The city says appeals that get upheld like this are very rare. This year, the city has only had four appeals sent in, and this specific case is the only one that went all the way. Officials say they rely on neighbors to get cases like this on their radar.
“The process is set up so that neighbors are involved. It’s a public hearing when these things come before the decision-making body. Inherent to that is the public’s participation,” says Williams.
So far, the city has not received any revised plans from the developers. KRQE News 13 tried to give them a call to see if they still plan on building in the area, but did not get a response.
The West Side Coalition says they’re going to continue to monitor the area to make sure anyone who builds there follows the rules.