There were a couple of rabble-rousing Village of Los Ranchos meetings held over the last few weeks. The July 13 meeting was standing room only, with some name calling, lots of clapping and a petition with about 600 signatures opposing high-density development in The Lavender Village. It went so long into the moonlight it had to be reconvened on July 19 to finish off the Village’s more routine business.
The big picture issue drawing the crowds is the density limits in Los Ranchos. On the Trustees’ table are several proposed developments. Only one project was on the July 13 agenda for an approval. Village trustees decided to take a little time and it was deferred for 60 days. This one is called The Nijmegen Plaza and is a 12-unit townhome community on ½ acre at Fourth and Willow. Just to the north is the Village Center project which is a 12-acre site on the southeast corner of Fourth and Osuna. This mixed-use development would have retail shops, affordable housing, a senior center and a little demo farm to highlight the agricultural roots of the Village. Then there is the Sandia Vista Development which is slated to have 32 affordable housing apartments on about two acres. Another is a 21-unit single housing development penciled in for a nine-acre plot of open vacant land located at Guadalupe Trail and Chavez Road.
Public comment was dramatic, with some calling the developers greedy and money hungry. Lots of clapping when they agreed. Chris Pacheco, the developer for the Nijmegen project seemed a bit hurt by the uncivil behavior and said he grew up in the village. The developer for the Village Center project, Chad Rennaker, was also a bit taken aback at being called greedy and money hungry. Rennaker and his company developed the bustling and unique El Vado Motel complex. While most of the public’s comments addressed concerns such as traffic and infrastructure, other comments said that if these projects are approved then the village could end up like Albuquerque or any other big city and lose its rural character.
Mayor Donald T. Lopez asked the developers of the Village Center project if they would be part of a town hall where residents can ask questions and get more answers. They agreed so, presumably, a date will be set.
At the July 19th meeting, the only public comment taken was about the remaining agenda items. But that did not mean there was not a tad bit of drama. The meeting room was full with most wanting to comment about the proposed developments. But they could not because those items were not on the agenda. Trustee Sandra Pacheco was nearly in tears when she said that there was a lot of hate out there over these issues and she was tired of being attacked. She said there were lots of misinformation out there and people should do their research. A couple other Trustees chimed in saying that they didn’t necessarily like the density limits but they “might not be able to do a whole lot with what is in the pipeline.” Another reminded folks that Fourth and Osuna is not rural; pass-through traffic from Rio Rancho and Albuquerque dominate the flow. Mayor Lopez said the public meeting with the developers will be scheduled as soon as a new planning and zoning director is hired. Apparently, the current P and Z director has resigned. Plans for the Village Center, the related traffic study and other projects are on the village website, www.losranchosnm.gov.
A Bit of Background
The Village of Los Ranchos is an incorporated municipality formed in December 1958. Los Ranchos is located west of Fourth and or Second Street and goes to the Rio Grande then at Montaño to just north of Paseo del Norte. The character of the community is largely rural and agricultural, the east side of the Village denser and more urban with Fourth Street being the commerce corridor. Towards the west to the river the density is less, and the Village becomes more rural. Rio Grande Boulevard is known for its stately homes and green pastures. The Village has tripled in population since 1970 with about 6,500 residents today.
It is governed by a Board of Trustees that includes Mayor Donald T. Lopez, Mayor Pro-Tem Sandra Pacheco and Trustees Gilbert Benavides, Allen Lewis and George Radnovich. The Mayor officiates the meeting and breaks any ties. Mayor Lopez has been around the Los Ranchos government table for more than 20-plus years and he has been elected as a Trustee seven times. He was appointed in 2018 as Mayor when then-Mayor Larry Abraham unexpectedly died. Lopez was elected to a four-year term in 2019. Another familiar face is Maria Rinaldi. Rinaldi is a contracted consultant for special projects. Rinaldi is also known for her work with the State of New Mexico and Bernalillo’s MainStreet program and the longtime New Mexico Wine Festival when it was based in Bernalillo. Rinaldi is part of the sixth generation of winemakers descending from Giovanni Giorgio Rinaldi who began making wine at the end of the 19th century near what is now Peña Blanca in Sandoval County.
Village Trustees will meet again at 5pm on Aug. 10. Agendas and video links to the meetings can be found at www.losranchosnm.gov.
Portions of this article were published in our July 22 issue of Corrales Comment. Reporter Carolyn Carlson updated this version with information from a follow-up meeting.