All posts by Nick Harrison

Developer seeking huge sign on Coors

The developer of the Coors Pavilion shopping center at the corner of Coors and St. Josephs is seeking approval for a sign that would far exceed size limitations now placed on commercial signage along Coors.

The Coors Corridor Plan limits the size of commercial signs at 9 feet high and 75 square feet in area. Red Shamrock 4, LLC, is asking for a variance to nearly double the size of the sign to 133 square fee, and increase its height to 26 feet.

The variance request was scheduled to be presented at a meeting of the Zoning Board Tuesday, November 21. It is now postponed until facilitated meetings can be held by neighborhood groups, tentatively set for January,

The Coors Corridor Plan — updated this March —regulates growth along the busy route, while also protecting the interests of residents regarding such things as traffic congestion, preservation of views and quality of life.

Such a major change would need a strong argument beyond a narrow business request. The Corridor Plan is part of the Comprehensive Plan and resulting Integrated Development Ordinance, which were recently approved by the City Council over objections by neighborhood groups across the City who were asking for more time for discussion.

Members of WSCONA who work on land use and development issues on behalf of neighborhoods have posed the question of why these ordinances and plans are in place if they can go by the wayside in the interests of a developer.

Opinion piece, online form offered in IDO debate

In an opinion piece published in the Albuquerque Journal,  Dr. Joe Valles argues that—in its current form — the IDO will damage the ability of neighborhoods to have a say in future development across the city.

“One thing is extremely clear, ” he wrote,  “the real constituency the majority of the City Council answers to is the ‘industry,’ as one councilor referred to the development community!”

Meanwhile, the Highland Business and Neighborhood Association has crafted a form that allows city residents to send a note their Councilor asking for more time to consider the proposed ordinance, which will have far-reaching effects on how the city plans its development and whether citizens have a significant say in that process.

 

Shred your secure documents free on Saturday

Shred your secure documents and other paper free from 10 a.m. – noon, Saturday  at Black Dog Shredding, 2800-B Vassar Dr. NE.

The city’s Solid Waste Management Department, Keep Albuquerque Beautiful and Black Dog Shredding are sponsoring the event as part of America Recycles Day.

Your documents will be collected and shredded on-site. Staples, paperclips, spring binding, and glue-binding are permitted. Although there is a limit of two boxes per attendee.

WSCONA president issues call to action on IDO

Jerry Worrall, president of WSCONA, citing Martin Salazarʼs article in the  Albuquerque Journal,  called on residents across the City to contact their Council representatives about the Integrated Development Ordinance, or IDO.

“Now is not the time to sit by and wait for others to stand against this overly rushed approval,” he says in a letter to the editor of the Journal. As voting, tax-paying, property-owning, renting or business-owning citizens of this city, he added, “this will have an impact in ways that citizens of Albuquerque cannot imagine.”

The Council will meet Monday at 5 pm in a special session devoted entirely to the IDO discussion. Salazar’s article implies that the meeting will vote to approve the measure.

Worrall said Albuquerque residents should ask their Councilor for one simple thing — extend voting on this for 90 days to allow the press and dedicated neighborhood activists to bring to light things we do not want to live with forever.

“This is about taking more time to correctly identify the concerns” of neighborhood associations, he said,  “yet we are apparently only days away from when the Council will approve the IDO, an act that will forever alter the City.”

Jerry Worrall letter to the Journal

The Inter-coalition of Neighborhood Associations had earlier submitted a formal resolution on the IDO  to the City to postpone approval to “get the initiative right.”

Saying it is “judicious and reasonable” to postpone the final decision, the Coalition cited several areas that are of serious concern to neighborhoods and residents across the city. Under the new guidelines, they say:

  • The Environmental Planning Commission will not hold hearings on site plans (staff will review) and there are no facilitated meetings
  • Neighborhood associations have reduced rights to appeal land-use decisions
  • The Board of Appeals is eliminated
  • The Sector and Area Plan Policy no longer exists

The Coalition contends that Planning staff have intentionally limited and controlled meaningful participation on the part of neighborhoods. They also say that Planning staff and the City Council have expressed that the IDO must be approved prior to Mayor Berry leaving office, but note that Mayor Berry informed the West Side Coalition of Neighborhood Associations the he is not “in any particular hurry” to get this initiative passed.

In addition, they say, the Comprehensive Plan that preceded the IDO was adopted by both the City and Bernalillo County, so that both jurisdictions need to approve any amendments to the Plan, rather than have it go only through the City Planning office.

There are zoning areas, the Coalition says, whose boundaries are mutually adjacent to properties under the authority of both the City and County.

The IDO, the Coalition says, “remains a work in progress” and needs more discussion before being considered in its final form.

A “lousy way” to redo an important plan

The City Council will consider the IDO today at 5 pm in the Council Chambers.

Rene’ Horvath, who oversees land-use issues for WSCONA, says, “This is a lousy way to redo such an important plan.” She asked people on the West Side to attend the hearing, or express concerns that the plan is not ready for adoption by calling or e-mailing all councilors (768-3100) to delay approving the plan until the public can review and address all the outstanding issues.

She notes that this is the second full Council Hearing on the IDO. The last hearing was October 16th. WSCONA, she says, is “very concerned that City Council will approve a plan that is not ready for adoption. The IDO is a complete overhaul of our current zone code. As a result, we are very concerned over the up-zoning of property with the new zone conversions, a reduction of public process and appeal rights. There are numerous other issues as well.

“The IDO was never ready to be presented to the EPC last April. As a result, a total of five EPC hearings were held between April and May resulting in 54 findings and 321 conditions. This is unheard of. Now the IDO has moved forward to City Council thru 4 LUPZ hearings since August and one City Council hearing. Numerous amendments have been introduced, mostly from the two City Councilors who sponsored the IDO.

“So far, most of the Neighborhood concerns have not been addressed. There are still many outstanding issues.. The Westside Coalition is recommending at least a 90-day deferral. There is still too much at stake to approve the IDO at this time.”

Get Out and vote for Mayor

Early Voting for the mayor’s runoff election has begun.

Tim Keller and Dan Lewis are contending for the office, following the elimination contest that involved eight candidates. None received more than 50 percent, which leaves the top two vote-getters still in play.

Tim Keller

Regardless of which you support, please cast your ballot.

Twelve locations across the city will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  – but only on weekdays – until Friday, November 10.

Election day will be Tuesday, November 14, with over 50 locations.

Dan Lewis

You may cast your ballots at any of the locations, regardless of where you live in the city. Just be sure to take a photo ID with you.

 

The three locations on the West Side are:

Don Newton/Taylor Ranch Community Center, 4900 Kachina St NW

 

 

Petroglyph Plaza, 8201 Golf Course Rd NW, Suite D1

 

 

98th and Central, 120 98th St NW, Suite A5

 

WSCONA leaders ask “what’s the rush” as Council meets tonight to consider IDO

In what appears to be another hurried process on the part of the City, the Integrated Development Ordinance revisions approved by the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee  on October 11th are to be considered by the full City Council today – five days later.

Dr. Joe Valles, who has been actively involved in the discussions, notes that “it is difficult to reasonably comprehend the rush to get this approved by a deadline effectively defined as ‘before the next Mayor takes office; because we don’t know what the next Mayor will do with it.’ … two years ago, WSCONA asked planners ‘why the rush’ with the ABC-Z Plan? We received the same response we now get about the IDO—-because we don’t know what the next Mayor will do with it—we are going to pass this!”

He added, “we’re told now that residents shouldn’t be concerned because the City Council will include a one-year provision allowing for ‘fixes.’ With an almost complete re-zoning of Albuquerque, the city is willing to hurriedly pass an incomplete ordinance?”

Residents, he said, are right to say, “something ain’t right here!”

The Council meeting this afternoon will accept public comments, and begins at 5 pm in City Council Chambers. If you cannot attend, please leave your Councilor a message here.

Rene Horvath, who monitors land use issues for WSCONA, notes that the LUTZ amendments “barely address all the outstanding issues,” and that “several amendments that were passed should not be supported.”

The Westside Coalition amendments, she said, have not had time to be reviewed. At its monthly meeting on October 4, WSCONA voted unanimously to adopt a Resolution requesting greater time to discuss issues related to the West Side, as well as other areas of the City.

Here are the amendments offered by the LUTZ.

LUPZ meeting to address neighborhood concerns

The Land Use, Planning, and Zoning committee will hold another hearing on the Integrated Development Ordinance Wednesday September 27th, at 5 pm in the City Council Chambers.

The committee will be taking testimony and will go over amendments to the IDO to address concerns raised at the August 16th hearing.

Rene’ Horvath, who manages land use issues for WSCONA, said that the development community spoke at previous meetings in support of:

  • More permissive uses
  • Fewer conditional uses
  • Less public involvement
  • More density and building height

Neighborhood representatives spoke in favor of:

  • Protections found in the current regulations and ordinances
  • An open and public process for consideration of zoning changes
  • The right to appeal decisions

All these protections are in the existing Zone Code and Sector Plans.

Neighborhoods also brought up concerns that the density, building heights, and intensive uses being promoted by the IDO are too high and located inappropriately near residential areas. The  interactive map provided by the Planning Department shows the new zoning being proposed for Albuquerque.

Your participation at this hearing will show neighborhood support. If you have questions, call Rene’ at (505) 898-2114

Give thanks for putting Fluoridation back on track

Dr. Joe L. Valles encouraged people across the city to send an email of appreciation to the five members of the Albuquerque Water Authority who  voted to approve reinstatement of fluoridation Wednesday. Two members voted no.

“This culminates a sustained push on the part of numerous residents, neighborhood associations and the dental-medical community to get fluoridation restored,” said Valles, a WSCONA member and president of the New Mexico Dental Association,

“Obviously, some of the supportive Board Members struggled approaching their conclusion. But in the end, they trusted the experts—the scientific community—in support of setting fluoridation levels according to optimal, safe and effective standard by the Center for Disease Control.  They understood that the best investment made is prevention and that fluoridation plays a major part in it,” he continued, adding that, “no doubt they expect some severe criticism from opponents for their actions.”

Authority members who voted in favor of fluoridation, are:

Klarissa Peña and Trudy Jones voted against the measure.

Earlier, both WSCONA and the Inter-Coalition of Neighborhood Associations had approved a motion in support of “reinstating fluoridation at the safe optimal effective standard level of .7 PPM (0.7 milligrams per liter) set by the Center for Disease Control.”

The water supply in Albuquerque contains natural fluoride, although levels have been dropping as more surface water has been added to the flow. In 2011, the Authority ceased adding supplemental fluoride while awaiting recommendations on optimal levels from the federal government. Wednesday’s vote will authorize spending some $250,000 to renew the program of adding fluoride to the city’s water.

Mayor candidates offer West Side views

Six of the eight candidates for mayor of Albuquerque offered their ideas about crime, economic development, how neighborhoods can contribute to resolving problems, and their visions for the city at a recent WSCONA meeting.

While very limited in time and clearly repeating spiels they have offered countless times to similar audiences, some elements specifically aimed at the West Side emerged. All the candidates are competing in the first round of voting, which has begun and culminates October 3. The top two vote-getters will vie in a run-off in November.

In the order they presented, they are:

Crime
Brian Colón

“We are in a crisis,” and crime is the primary issue facing the city, said Colon. His goals are increasing the number of officers to 1,200 and emphasizing community policing. His first six months in office would be “all about crime, all the time.” As a “lawyer who has represented police officers across the state,” he said he is “uniquely qualified to talk about law enforcement.” He believes that “public trust has been broken with the city and county” and, under his leadership, “when there is a crisis, you’ll hear from the mayor or police chief, not just public information staff.”

Dan Lewis

 

The city is now “defined by crime,” Lewis said, and mentioned a “comprehensive plan to build the police force and improve public safety.”

 

Michelle Garcia Holmes

Garcia Holmes served as a uniformed officer and detective in Albuquerque for 20 years and was later chief of staff for the State Attorney General. She called the crime problem the result of poor leadership and management. “We keep electing politicians,” she said, but in elections “four and eight years ago, we were talking about the same issues.” She said that knowing the city is “number one in auto theft and number five in violent crimes against children made me run for mayor.”

Saying she would bring in a new chief, and noting that she had worked under six different ones, she would improve recruitment and training. “There’s an integrity problem in our police department,” she said, adding that “we don’t depend on an officer’s words anymore.”

She wants to ensure compliance with recommendations of the Department of Justice and work with the National Association of Police Chiefs to look for ways to change and improve crime fighting. “In the end, “she said, “it all boils down to having the right policies and following them.”

Gus Pedrotty

Pedorty called crime an issue “we know how to solve quickly — get rid of the chief, do community policing, finish the Department of Justice mandate, hire more officers, etc.” If we “can solve these in the first year,” he concluded, “what do we do with the rest of time? We have to work toward a new culture.”

Tim Keller

Keller, the state auditor and former state representative from the International District, is concerned about the city. The only publicly financed candidate, he said that “we’re at a crossroads,” pointing at a pattern of “thinking that deals in excuses rather than action.” As mayor, he would consider problems his to solve, noting that he has proposed specific plans to combat crime and improve the city’s economy, development and others.

Health care, poverty and poor education are all related to crime, he said. It’s “very important to focus in two areas — early childhood programs to break the poverty cycle, improve health and tackle social issues.” The city should “own the problem by building facilities to address these and related issues, behavioral problems and mental illness.” Providing such facilities, he said, would “cost about the same as the baseball fields that were built recently.”

The Economy

Continue reading Mayor candidates offer West Side views