City of Rio Rancho

The fourth time was the charm for developers’ efforts to get city approval for denser residential zoning south of Camino Encantadas.
Rio Rancho Governing Body members voted 4-1 to allow a land-use zone change from R1, the lowest-density single-family housing category, to R4, medium-density single-family housing, during their virtual meeting Thursday night. City Councilor Bob Tyler cast the dissenting vote.
Councilor Paul Wymer recused himself due to a conflict of interest with his employment, and Councilor Dan Stoddard was absent. Mayor Gregg Hull was allowed to vote because of their absence.
The item, which involves just more than 122 acres in Enchanted Hills subdivision Lomas Encantadas, failed to pass the governing body three times last year.
Multiple governing body members were absent or unable to vote all three times. Even when a majority of those voting supported the change, the number of supporters was fewer than four, so the item failed under the city charter.
The developers — AMREP Southwest, the Webb Family Trust, Mark and Patricia Conkling, and Resurrection Land Co. — brought the issue before the governing body the first three times, making changes in their plans each time. Originally, the request included a tract of land north of Camino Encantadas, but the developers eventually removed that tract from the request due to resistance.
For the fourth time, Councilor Jim Owen, who previously opposed the zone change, had asked in December for the governing body to reconsider the matter this month.
Owen said the city departments and Planning and Zoning Commission had revisited the matter multiple times and OK’d the changes. The city has opportunity to intervene in the future if developers’ plans become unacceptable, he said.
“I’m kind of seeing us beat this thing to death,” Owen said.
Tyler has consistently opposed the change. He said Rio Rancho would continue to be a bedroom community as long as more homes were built, and the new housing didn’t seem to draw in more stores.
He said he was worried infrastructure, including police and fire services, wouldn’t be able to keep up with residential growth.
“We’re behind on a lot of different things,” Tyler said.
Developers’ attorney Matt Spangler said they plan for mainly 50-foot lots with $250,000 homes, but R4 zoning allows for flexibility in lot size and shape.
“We believe these homes will be able to meet the needs of current and future residents,” he said.
With fewer homes along a street, as with R1 zoning, Spangler said, the city would have less tax money to maintain that street.
Developers estimate paying $6.9 million in gross receipts taxes from construction of the R4 housing, with $1.6 million of it going to the city, Spangler said. Estimates also indicated the city would get about $330,000 a year more in property taxes, and Rio Rancho Public Schools would get $460,000 more.
He also said the development would increase gross receipts tax revenue in the nearby commercial area.
In other matters, the governing body:
• OK’d a site plan for a two-story, 4,200-square-foot expansion of La Esperanza Child Development Center on Wellspring Avenue;
• OK’d a $1.5 million contract with File Construction Inc. to replace a sewer main line that has broken repeatedly along NM 528;
• Renewed the city health-care emergency declaration through March 12. The declaration doesn’t affected state-ordered pandemic restrictions; and
• Approved a zoning change from R-1 to R-3, mixed residential use, in the Mountain Hawk subdivision south of Talisman Road on a 4-1 vote, with Tyler dissenting and Wymer recused.