Despite public input against a four-plex development site plan at the March 9 Rio Rancho Governing Body meeting, the plan passed on a unanimous vote.
The site plan is set for a property that was zoned in 2008 at the corner of Broadmoor Blvd. and Hedingham Ave. near Rio Rancho High School. It consists of 14 four-plex buildings and allows for 56 individual units.
Residents who live near the site expressed their worries by email and in person to the governing body.
Joseph Padilla, says the four-plex doesn’t make sense in the midst of all the single family homes in that area.
“The low-rent housing brings higher crime rates, higher police call volumes, increased levels of violence, drug and property crimes. While managing the low-rent apartment community, I had calls from domestic violence, auto theft, break-ins and even murder,” Padilla said.
Padilla and his wife moved from Albuquerque almost three years ago because they wanted to “get away from the high crime in Albuquerque.”
“We take pride in living in Rio Rancho, and we feel safe. Bringing a low-rent apartment community to Rio Rancho is going to bring that same trouble to Rio Rancho and its surrounding communities,” he said.
Most of the public who spoke at the council meeting were concerned about having low-income housing in the middle of high-income housing.
Victoria Hiatt emailed the council about possible crime as well.
“We love our home in Rio Rancho and highly value the separation that our geographic location provides from the crime in the greater Albuquerque area,” she said.
While concerns were taken seriously by the council, they all stressed that legally they cannot change the property. It will remain residential, and the four-plex doesn’t break any laws by being built at that location, according to background and analysis provided by the city.
Mayor Gregg Hull argued that many people have lived in transitional housing like this four-plex at some point.
“It is great that you have a half-a-million-dollar home, but we have homes that started at $16,000 in the ’70s. We have $100,000 and $200,000 homes, too. My home in Cabezon is $200,000, but I don’t consider myself to be low income. We had a good builder,” Hull said.
He added that his own kids transitioned into apartments in Rio Rancho and raised his grandchild there.
“I don’t consider them to be criminals,” he said.
Hull says there is a diversity of need in Rio Rancho and that he can’t predict how crime will unfold.
“We are not the community that says people can’t live here because of how much they make,” he added.