Proposal seeks to change permit rules for some new Albuquerque liquor retailers

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque could soon require public input before allowing some new convenience stores to sell liquor, beer, and wine.

City Councilor Pat Davis is behind the idea, outlined in a proposed change to Albuquerque’s zoning code.

The proposed amendment calls for “liquor retail” to be re-categorized as a “conditional use,” which would require a special permit application and a public hearing in front of a zoning hearing examiner.

“This is the first step in giving neighborhoods a choice to decide what their neighborhood looks like,” Davis said, speaking of the proposal Friday.

The proposal comes more than a month after neighbors in two parts of Davis’ southeast city council district lost the fight to stop liquor sales at two historically problematic 7-Eleven convenience stores.

The stores at Central and Solano in Nob Hill, and Kathryn and San Mateo in Parkland Hills have both seen a high number of emergency calls. According to city statistics, both locations have seen more than 300 emergency calls for service in the last year.

Davis’ proposal targets “MX-M” zones, or “Mixed Use – Medium” areas of town, which typically sit along major roadways like Central, Lomas, and Coors.

Today, liquor retail is considered a “permissive use” under Albuquerque zoning code.

“The bottom line is there are good operators and bad operators, but the state law doesn’t make a distinction, and they don’t give us as a city the ability to say yes or no to how they operate,” said Davis.

Changing liquor retail to a “conditional use” in MX-M zoning would force convenience stores or other establishments to get a “conditional use permit” in order to sell liquor, beer or wine.

Part of that conditional use permitting requires a public meeting with surrounding neighbors. The outcome of the hearing would be decided by a zoning hearing examiner. That decision could then be appealed to Albuquerque City Council for a second opinion.

“Somebody who wants to operate a new business like liquor retail, has to go talk to neighbors, has to earn their trust and support, before you do that business,” said Davis.

A community advocate, Letitia Tomaszewski used to live next to the San Mateo and Kathryn 7-Eleven and saw numerous crime scenes emerge nearby.

Tomaszewski says she supports the proposed change, believing it would give neighborhoods a level of control over businesses that have a lot of impact on the neighborhood.

“We’d be able to change that landscape of the alcohol establishment owning the neighborhood,” said Tomaszewski.

The bill will be heard by the city’s Environmental Planning Commission later this summer. It would require approval from the commission, the full city council and a signature from the Albuquerque mayor before it could go into effect.

For a full look at what type of zoning applies to which properties in Albuquerque, click here to visit the city’s Advanced Map Viewer. On the left side of the webpage, look for the filter check-box option titled, “IDO Zoning.” Click that box to see the specific zoning codes for each piece of property within the city of Albuquerque.

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