ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A big step took place Monday, moving the Santolina development forward. The Level B application has been submitted to Bernalillo County for approval.

Ten minutes from downtown Albuquerque, Santolina is billed as “a master plan designed for Bernalillo County’s future.” If it becomes reality, it one day could rival the population of Las Cruces.

“This is clearly the biggest master plan that the county has had,” said Enrico Gradi, the county’s planning and development services director. “It’s going to be a big task for us to review,” Gradi said.

In June, the county commission approved the Santolina master plan. Three commissioners were in favor, and two were against.

The nearly 14,000 acre community is planned for the West Side between Atrisco Heritage High School, the Metropolitan Detention Center and all along Central and I-40.

On Monday, the developer submitted the Level B plan.

“Level A is the big plan that covers the entire property. Level B is the smaller version that is much more detailed,” said Gradi.

Officials representing Santolina declined an on-camera interview, but said the Level B plan includes residential villages, an urban center, a town center, business parks, a large-scale industrial and business park, and public and private open spaces.

But the development has generated controversy.

Santiago James Maestas, president of the South Valley Regional Association of Acequias, said, “We need to stop the plan now before it proceeds any further.”

He said water is one concern.

“Without water, there’s no life. Our community here in the South Valley depends upon water for its existence,” Maestas said. The developer has said there’s enough water at the community that’s about “smart growth through thoughtful planning and design.”

The county planning commission will discuss the Level B plan on March 2.