The Rio Rancho Governing Body at its June 23 meeting rejected the proposed Montreal Mini Master Plan, a development sandwiched between Enchanted Hills and Lomas Encantadas.

The plan needed four votes to be approved. It got only three and has been bounced back to the developer of the project, Lomas Encantadas Development Co., LLC.

Councilors Bob Tyler and Paul Wymer recused themselves from voting on the project, which left Councilors Jim Owen, Jeremy Lenentine, Karissa Culbreath, and Mayor Greggory Hull to vote on the plan.

To pass, the plan would have needed all three Councilors and the Mayor to vote in favor of it. Owen voted against, wanting Planning and Zoning Board to look at it again.

Ron Bohannon, president of Tierra West, LLC, representatives for the development company, addressed the Governing Board, as did Enchanted Hill residents Mary Gruber and Craig McKinley.

Bohannon described the 80-house development for the board, focusing on the plan’s open space and walkways and how it would rectify the drainage issues that have plagued the area.

Doing so will require demolishing a fairly substantial hill in the area, a hill that residents want preserved.

According to Bohannon, part of the problem is the drainage issue wasn’t adequately addressed when the land was first developed.

“Now, we’re trying to put a patch in place,” he said.

To residents, that patch needs to leave the hill untouched.

As Gruber said, “[There] should be a way of incorporating the hill into the design. [It is] a beautiful hill. Best thing going.”

McKinley acknowledged that people would be upset if the hill were removed, explaining how massive it is. “It’s about 60 feet tall, and maybe 100 feet in circumference… [Removing the hill] ain’t gonna fly.”

McKinley has lived in his home in Enchanted Hills since 1995. He said he and other buyers were promised by the original developer, AMREP, that the open space in front of his home would remain open. There would be no development on it.

In fact, McKinley said, he and others paid extra for those lots, to ensure their view would remain unobstructed, and the Montreal Mini Master Plan would develop that land.

Bohannon acknowledged that any time there is development on vacant land surrounded by other subdivisions, there are problems.

“Any change is hard,” he said, but added that the developers have done everything they can to make the plan part of the community.

“We think it’s a good land use,” he said.

Given the residents’ comments, Councilor Owen suggested that the plan be sent back to the Planning and Zoning Board for further study.

“The problem with bumping back to Planning and Zoning,” Bohannon said, “is it’s still a problem. That hill’s going to go away.”

Owen repeated that he’d like to see the plan revisited and, when the voted was called, voted ‘no,’ causing the vote to fail and the plan to be returned to the developer.

Other items before the Governing Board included hiring approvals, requests for approval of a liquid gas storage facility west of the city, near Double Eagle Airport, and 2 projects by the new Rust Presbyterian Hospital.