Discussion of a bill that would allow certain projects to build up to 75 feet in select locations was indefinitely pulled from the Planning Commission agenda, surprising some members at a Thursday city meeting.

City Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, the bill’s sole sponsor, withdrew it early Thursday, city Planning Manager Noah Berke said at the meeting.

“The sponsor has just decided as of today to withdraw, not postpone, but withdraw and remove it from any schedule or any subcommittees from any governing body and just not be heard,” Berke said. “That is really the only direction we have given and the only reasoning behind it.”

Abeyta could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. Abeyta was defeated in his bid for reelection to the council by Planning Commissioner Lee Garcia, who resigned from the Planning Commission on Thursday before the item was withdrawn.

The bill, if successful, would have amended the city’s land development code to establish two new types of projects: “qualifying innovation projects” and “qualifying innovation village projects.”

Those projects would be able to build up to 75 feet in planned-unit development districts.

Those areas would consist mostly of offices for people in jobs or industries that help build the local economy and residential developments.

Vice Chairman Mark Hogan requested more information about why the bill — the only item for discussion on the agenda — was withdrawn, adding the bill was a “substantial effort” to abandon at the “11th hour.”

“I know we have to notice the meeting and follow through,” he said. “So I know there is not a lot of alternatives to call off the meeting in a more timely way. It is kind of disappointing. I was hoping to hear about it.”

Commissioner Dan Pava said he was also surprised by the bill’s late withdrawal, adding that if the bill had gone through, he was prepared to debate whether a text amendment was the appropriate avenue for the bill’s purpose.

“If we are talking about transparency and doing the right thing ... and I am not lecturing anyone here; it is just my opinions,” he said. “Frankly, I am surprised how this would have been presented and I was fully prepared to express my opinions of why it shouldn’t have moved forward to the governing body.”

Some residents have concerns that “qualifying innovation projects” and “qualifying innovation villages” would be able to pass through with only administrative approvals.

Berke said they were “partially correct.” Berke said a preliminary development plan would still have to go through an early neighborhood notification process and a hearing from the Planning Commission and the City Council, but if approved by the council, the final development plan for a qualifying project could be approved by the land-use director.

Berke said a decision still could have been appealed, and everyone within 300 feet of the property still would have to be notified of a decision, including neighborhood associations.

Pava said he would suggest that the City Council start engaging on a new general plan and to reinvigorate long-range planning efforts; the last general plan update was completed in 1999.

Planning Commission Chairman Brian Gutierrez said he studied the general plan over the past few months and found the city was supposed complete semiannual general plan updates and maintain a general plan implementation program.

“It is there and it is spelled out, so I think there is room to start some type of work on it.”

Berke echoed the need, stating that the city’s Land Use Department is working on a growth management plan that might inform any future general plan updates.

Planning Commissioner Dominic Sategna said he didn’t believe that Thursday marked the end of the bill.

Assistant City Attorney Patricia Feghali said that at this point, the bill “is not going anywhere at the moment, and it doesn’t mean there won’t be another sponsor or it won’t be amended, but it means for right now, it essentially doesn’t exist on any agenda.”

(8) comments

Lorraine Mendiola

These developments that are occurring are not affordable and do not benefit any locals. The only individuals who benefit are the developers.

What about water? We do live in a desert. The City of Santa Fe must think of its citizens first and foremost. Affordable housing is definitely needed; however, what has been built and continues to be built is not affordable. Why do you think so many people have moved to Rio Rancho?

This administration is catering to developers who are interested in one thing-money!

Lupe Molina

I was in favor of this change and sad to see it withdrawn at the 11th hours because of what seem like shady activities of shadowy people online. I know the nimbys we're ready to come out of the woodwork to oppose this but understand that the young people this served might not have shown up to make comment because 6pm on a Thursday is an inconvenient time for working people with kids and so many young people have moved on from Santa Fe because we're basically told its a city that doesn't like young people. The city needs to do a much better job of getting input from a wider swath of people. It's pretty pathetic.

ba hop

I lived in Austin for over 30 yrs & the state of Tx had a law that the city could not build to obstruct the views of their beloved Capitol Bldg. it was one of the most beautiful city skylines I've seen until unscrupulous & greedy pro develop at any cost republicans hijacked that state. now you'd be lucky to get a glimpse of their rotunda from anywhere --except on top their ugly & heinous skyscrapers that populate Austin's natural beauty like weeds...

Gus Walbolt

75 Feet is a five story building. Once built, it remains. One of the outstanding features of Santa Fe is its natural beauty. Let's not allow blocking the views of the horizons and mountains. Once we go down this path there is no turning back. The existing limit is plenty.

Karla Harby

A lot of citizens objected to this proposal. Everyone is in favor of projects that will benefit our young citizens, but this proposal ran contrary to the needs and, especially, the desires of both workers and employers. The only beneficiaries would have been the builders and developers. Development proposals that damage the landscape need to be specifically tailored to meet the needs of the end users, so that the cost is worth it in some way. Otherwise, views and open space are lost forever with no lasting benefit to the citizens of the City.

Zoe Trimmer

Right on Karla.

I'm glad it was removed. As Karla mentioned, a lot of us opposed this. Once this is allowed in "select" sections there will be MANY requests from developers wanting variances EVERYWHERE else. I can think of one developer in particular.

Lupe Molina

Slippery slope arguments are a type of fallacy.

Lupe Molina

And a lot of people actually support it. But we work and have kids and can't show up to 6pm meetings during the week and sit there for two hours to listen to unsubstantiated rants just to get out minute in. By all means, stifle the growth of this city. Let's see what it becomes in 30 years.

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