A shopping center at Paseo del Volcan and Westphalia Boulevard is one step closer after the Rio Rancho Governing Body meeting Thursday night.

This map shows the land rezoned for retail use in blue. Cleveland High School is to its west, and land already zoned for retail is to the east in red. Paseo del Volcan makes up the southern boundary. Image courtesy of the City of Rio Rancho.

During the meeting at City Hall, governing body members unanimously approved changing the land-use zoning of 9.3 acres northwest of the intersection to retail from mixed-use residential. The State Land Office owns the parcel and much of the land around it, and last year, took public input on whether to sell it for retail development. Mayor Gregg Hull voted in the absence of City Councilor Jeremy Lenentine.

Jim Strozier of Consensus Planning, agent for the State Land Office, said the zoning change, accompanied by an amendment to the area’s master plan, was part of the refinement of a 23.5-acre parcel for the shopping center. He didn’t say what stores might be there, and developers often don’t know which businesses will come until much later in the process.

“This is something that’s well-needed, and I’m really excited to see what’s going to transpire over there at that corner,” said City Councilor Bob Tyler.

Strozier agreed.

“I think we’re all going to be really, really happy when we see this get underway,” he said.

In another matter, governing body members unanimously approved a site plan for an RV storage lot at the corner of NM 528 and Rockaway Boulevard.

Stephen Litsas, agent for property owner Macritchie Storage Ventures, said the facility would be paved and have about 405 covered RV parking places, as well as washing and dump stations. The main entrance is expected to be off Rockaway, west of the existing commercial center.

Two residents of the adjoining neighborhood, Suzanne Santillanes and Suzanne Walters, protested that they wanted a business for their children in the space, washing RVs would use too much water and they were concerned about pollution from washing the vehicles and from owners dumping wastewater from them.

Litsas said RV washing would use less water than a retail establishment, the property had been vacant for decades with no other proposed use and the wash water and sewage from RVs would go into the city sewer system. He expects four vehicles per day to come and go from the facility.

City Councilor Paul Wymer said RV storage had since at least 1989 been a permissive use of the land, which was zoned for manufacturing and commercial use.

“My opinion is that this is a pretty low-intensity use,” he said.

Businesses the zoning allows include adult-only bookstores or theaters, concrete-batching plants and sheet-metal sales.

“While you might want something else (here), you could get something else that’s a whole lot worse,” Wymer said.

Hull said the governing body needed an overwhelming reason to deny the site plan or the move would be taking property rights.

In other business, the governing body approved a site plan for Brew Lab 101 to make its back-patio seating area permanent and OK’d the consent agenda, which included a budget adjustment for replacing the Esther Bone Memorial Library roof.