Belen council agrees to allow building on-site homes in Sunrise Bluffs

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Belen city councilors unanimously voted Monday to approve a special use permit to allow building on-site homes in the retirement community of Sunrise Bluffs

City councilors tabled the motion at their July 16 meeting until an amendment for the ordinance, outlining the development's zone, was created.

Ron Brown, the community's developer, approached the city council for approval during the July 2 meeting after receiving recommendations from the Belen Planning and Zoning Commission.

The subdivision was zoned in 2000 under a special use residential community, or SU-1, for manufactured housing, which follows specific guidelines that don't allow for the construction of on-site homes.

The commission recommended amending the SU-1 zone to add the capability of building on-site construction homes, but city councilors had to approve the change before it was be implemented.

Builders have expressed interest in building homes within Sunrise Bluffs, but until the zone was amended Brown couldn't enter into negotiations with builders.

"We want to get going. We want to build some more houses," Brown said at the July 2 meeting. "We want to get some more people living in here and get some more gross receipts tax to the city."

The subdivision, located west of Interstate 25, stopped building homes during phase 3 of the project more than four years ago due to the economic downturn.

"When we started out, the pricing differential for manufactured housing was substantial versus on-site building construction," Brown said. "That pricing differential has virtually been eliminated."

Before, home appliances could be bought in bulk with a price discount, but with large home improvement stores offering the same price that's been eliminated. On top of that, the manufacturing code has added limitations to building manufactured homes.

"It's a combination of the evolutions of restrictions with respect to manufacturing homes and the closure of that difference in cost plus the fact that with site-built homes we can make easier modifications to the home to accommodate a purchaser," Brown said.

Sunrise Bluffs residents were unanimous in wanting on-site homes built within their community, Brown said.

John Adams, Sunrise Bluffs resident, told the councilors he supports this move.

"We're very pleased with the community and very much behind Rob's project of bringing in homes, because we want that community to expand," Adams said. "We want to see it grow, so everything (Rob) has done and said we're all behind that."

Adding the capability of building on-site homes will enhance "what's there now," said Mayor Rudy Jaramillo.

Councilor Wayne Gallegos said the council welcomes "the idea that we're going to get some more houses built in the area."

In other business during Monday's meeting, the council:

• Approved a motion to send a letter to the New Mexico Department of Transportation agreeing to a land transfer.

NMDOT will transfer the land on Camino del Llano, west of Interstate 25, to the city, which plans to use the property for two retention ponds to help with flooding issues in the area.

In return, the city will take ownership of the 2 1/2 miles of frontage road from Aragon to Cannon Road — a fully paved road. As a result of taking ownership of the road, the city will now be responsible for 19 culverts and roadside safety. Mario Juarez-Infante, of Wilson and Co., the city's engineering firm, said NMDOT will help the city fix a guard rail on road.

Juarez-Infante said the New Mexico Highway Commission will consider the land transfer in September, and the city would "most likely" take control of the property in November or December.

"(After securing the funding), we're looking at construction to begin in March 2013," Juarez-Infante said;

• Approved allowing Wilson and Co. to proceed with options for an historic preservation agreement regarding three properties in the city;

• Voted unanimously to join the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area;

• Appointed Tom Greer to the city of Belen Planning and Zoning Commission. The seat, according to Mayor Rudy Jaramillo, has been vacant for more than a year.

Councilors David Carter and Mary Aragon voted against Greer's appointment, while Councilors Jerah Cordova and Wayne Gallegos voted in favor. Jaramillo broke the tie, voting to approve Greer's appoint.

Jaramillo said while Greer isn't a resident of the city, he has "done things to improve the community … he has an interest in the community and the progress of our community."

• Approved an amended memorandum of agreement with Belen Consolidated Schools regarding taking responsibility for ponding on school property;

• Held a public hearing for the franchise agreement with CenturyLink. No one spoke and no discussion was held.

(Editor Clara Garcia contributed to this report.)


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