Neighbors concerned about ‘back door deal’ in Sandia Ranch resolution

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – People in the North Valley are up in arms after they say a county commissioner pulled a fast one on them when it comes to a prime piece of property.

County commissioners unanimously approved $1.5 million in funding to develop phase one and two of Sandia Ranch. Neighbors do not have a problem with that, but they are concerned about the fine print.

The land north of Osuna on Edith has a lot of history, and some neighbors have been around almost every step of the way.

“Forty years we have been working on this project,” neighbor Chris Christy said. “We have time to wait and do things by the rules.”

Chris Christy said she worked with Bernalillo County Parks and Recreation for years developing the land for agricultural uses.

“We were trucking along with Parks and Rec and making progress and then the county commissioner throws in the school, and all bets are off,” Christy said.

Neighbors said they found out in February that Commissioner Debbie O’Malley hoped to bring an Albuquerque Sign Language Academy to the property.

Neighbors argued at Wednesday’s commission meeting that was never the plan. They fear the school will bring traffic and take away from the agricultural appeal.

“We find that it is very incongruent as to what we were sold, and what we are being steamrolled to accept,” Christy said.

The resolution does not say anything about the Albuquerque Sign Language Academy, but it does include in the financial analysis the possibility of four or more acres being sold.

“I do not think that’s a legal process,” Christy said. “I don’t think that’s a transparent process.”

O’Malley confirmed to KRQE News 13 Wednesday that is intended for the ASLA school and that the land will not be put on the market publicly.

“The school is a good community use,” O’Malley said. “It will compliment what is there, so I do not see any conflict at all with looking at a school.”

O’Malley did not say exactly how many acres or how much it would be sold for.

“Is it a silent deal,” Christy asked. “Does the county have this reach and this authority to do cozy deals?”

O’Malley argued that she has followed protocol and been transparent.

“We have had many meetings about it,” O’Malley said. “There are some people who don’t like it. They will continue to not like it, but it isn’t that we haven’t been honest about what we are pursuing or doing there.”

Although the resolution was approved, O’Malley said there is no agreement between the county and the school. However, she hopes to have something in the works in the next few months.

If it does go through, O’Malley said the money from the sale would benefit the remainder of the Sandia Ranch property.

The county bought the probably for around $2 million in 2015.

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