NMELC and our clients beat a third attempt by developer Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WALH) to get our case thrown out of state District Court.
Executive Director Doug Meiklejohn and Staff Attorney Jaimie Park are heading up the case. In the order dismissing WALH’s motion, Judge Nancy Franchini wrote, “The Motion was not a constructive use of the Courts and the parties’ resources.”
As you may recall, WALH is proposing the massive 90,000-person Santolina development for the western edge of Albuquerque. The motion to dismiss (claiming that we had appealed under the wrong statute) was an odd one – WALH filed the motion after the case had been fully briefed and arguments heard by Judge Franchini. Our appeal of the “Level A” Master Plan approvals will proceed.
That case is only one aspect of a larger issue: WALH rushed to push through as many proceedings as possible in 2016, likely in an effort to capitalize on the last year of Commissioner Art De La Cruz (an ardent supporter of the project) who will leave office at the end of this year due to term limits. In November, the Commission approved $500 million in subsidies known as “Tax Increment Development Districts” or “TIDDs” for the project (although that number may rise up to $1 billion to account for inflation over the next 50 years), and $500 million in “Public Improvement District” or “PID” reimbursements.
The County Planning Commission will make a recommendation on Santolina’s “Level B” approvals to the County Commission in January. If the Commission grants the approvals, the Law Center will represent SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), the Pajarito Village Association and several individuals in a legal challenge.