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Jan. 30, 2014

Albuquerque’s Area Plans Will Be Scrutinized

By Anca Gagiuc, Associate Editor

City Councilor Chuck Wilkins has set a new goal for the beginning of 2014. He wants to bring clarity, simplicity, and coherence in the land-use plans the city has adopted in the recent years by having them re-examined. A series of work sessions will be held in the following weeks to investigate the plans and the proposed changes.

In the respective 12-area plans there are lots of land on which there is chance of future development. These plans set requirements for building height, materials, access management, zoning and infrastructure. The problem is not the existence of these requirements, but the fact that they are not consistent with the zoning ordinance the council approved last May. A pertinent example is the building height: the zoning ordinance restricts the building height to 50 feet, and the area plans limit is at 32 feet, said Wilkins. Land use and access management guidelines are good, he said, but stricter standards are not, and some street access rules could be fixed.

His proposal found supporters especially in the commercial sector represented by an organization present at the meeting. The president of the Albuquerque branch of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Lynne Andersen, said that dozens of similar plans often overlap, causing confusion, frustration and delays for the development projects. NAIOP board member Paul Wymer added that the city’s sector plans increase costs and uncertainty.

On the other hand, councilor Tamara Gutierrez made a point when she said that some of these plans were created with input from residents. She didn’t say “no” to the work sessions, but didn’t agree with getting rid of area plans.

It has not yet been decided who will participate in the work sessions, but NAIOP, businesses and developers are most probably going to attend as they are directly affected by these area plans.

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