Los Lunas council votes not to approve RV park in village limits

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When it comes to RVs, there's no place for them in the village of Los Lunas.

Residents Bill and Rebecca Baca wanted to change that and start a small RV park on a half-acre vacant lot they own southwest of Hastings at 244 Lujan Road. But the village won't allow them.

Earlier this month, the village council denied a zone change from commercial to special use that would have allowed the Bacas to build their eight-unit RV park.

Baca, who has been a contractor for 20 years, submitted a plat plan several months ago for the RV park where visitors could stay on weekends, or up to 30 days at a time. He said he was verbally given the go ahead.

He also submitted a traffic impact study done by Martin Garcia of Anchor Engineering. Garcia studied traffic flow on Lujan Road, and the turning radius for a pickup truck with trailer or a 40-foot trailer.

Baca started making improvements on the land, pouring cement for each unit pad, and setting up utility hookups — an investment of $15,000, he said.

Councilor Richard Lovato said at the meeting was surprised to see improvements already had begun.

"We never told him he could go ahead," said Christina Ainsworth, community development director. "He has another property by the river and we told him that one was OK for the zoning, but this one, we told him he would need re-zoning."

Some of the landowners in the area oppose the RV park and zone change because they said it would not be consistent with the rest of the commercially-zoned area.

"You cannot approve a zone change if it will be injurious to adjacent properties," said Scooter Haynes, representing Valencia Plaza on the north side of Baca's property.

The zone change doesn't meet the municipal code or the land-use plan, said Haynes.

"It will attract a transient population. We believe an RV park would be a poor visual character, again injurious to adjacent properties," he said.

Councilor Gerard Saiz argued that travelers in RVs are not generally problem people.

"They're people who are traveling through," Saiz said, "either with their families or elderly people traveling through, looking for an area where they can be set up for the night, next to people doing the same type of activity, where they feel safe amongst each other."

The zoning code in the village of Los Lunas hasn't been updated in a long time, and Ainsworth and her staff have had to make zoning determinations by comparing zone similarities, and they recommended the zone change for Baca's RV park.

"There is a two-step determination," she said. "One is which zone is appropriate. We determined that the SU zone is appropriate. The second recommendation we made was if this area was appropriate, and of course it's only our staff recommendation.

"We don't make the policy," Ainsworth said. "Planning and zoning and the council make the final decision on that."

Saiz and Lovato voted in favor of the zone change, but Councilors Charles Griego and Amanda Perea voted against it. Mayor Robert Vialpando broke the tie with a 'no' vote on the zone change.

A similar problem regarding parking areas for semi-trucks also exists. So far, efforts to solve that problem have not worked out.

Lovato said the ideal situation would be a truck stop west of Interstate 25 that could include RV units. The councilor said the village is working to attract investors for such a facility.

Some councilors have even toyed with the idea of building RV units at the River Park, said Lovato, but the village doesn't own that land. It is managed by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy and the Bureau of Land Management.

For now, RV travelers coming to Los Lunas will have to stay at Isleta Pueblo's RV park, or at La Mirada Hotel and RV Park in Belen

"I felt like I was thrown under a bus," Baca said in a phone interview after the meeting. "I really thought I was treated unfairly. They gave me the OK, and then they took it away."


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.