A 65-lot development project on Cow Creek Ranch would be slashed by almost half that number in a revised plan the developer proposed in apparent response to angry downstream landowners who called the project too big and potentially too big. damaging for the bucolic area.
Santa Fe businessman Gerald Peters submitted a revamped platform – or site map – in August that would reduce overall construction to 35 homes.
His initial proposal, which was to build 65 houses in four phases over 20 years, met with stiff opposition from neighbors and conservationists, including actor, director and environmental activist Robert Redford.
In a September 26 opinion piece for The New Mexican, Redford denounced the project as threatening a way of life in rural San Miguel County.
The revised plan would eliminate the third phase of 26 lots on the west side of the property, which was slated for development after 2030. It would also remove four lots from the first phase, leaving 15 homes to be built near the creek that crosses the eastern part of the property. 1,200 acre property.
Peters’ team has yet to submit the backup documents needed for the changes, so the revised platform is purely conceptual at this time, said Amanda Salas, county planning supervisor.
“The project at the moment is currently [at] a standstill until further documents are received for the smaller proposed development, ”said Salas.
Salas explained that although they received the new plaque in August, they had to give Peters at least 30 days to provide the necessary documents before discussing it publicly.
Peters could not be reached to comment on how he intends to move forward and whether he is reducing his footprint in an effort to calm the public outcry. His assistant wrote in an email that he was on an out-of-state fishing trip this week.
The new plaque shows that the original part of phase 3 would be turned into a reserve area and what was previously phase 4 would become phase three.
Salas said Peters may later develop the reserve area. He would have to apply for it as a separate project and go through all the required steps, including getting approval from the county commissioners, she said.
Landowners interviewed said the cuts Peters proposed did not address their main concerns, such as the impact dozens of homes would have on groundwater supplies and the creek’s water quality.
J. Bustamante, an Albuquerque resident who owns 300 acres in Cow Creek, said he was not convinced the septic tanks would be safe, especially those near the creek.
“With the floods happening often … the problems could stem from the contamination of the water,” Bustamante said.
He said he doubted the third phase of 26 batches would be phased out for good.
“This reduction in lots at this point with the ability to come back in the future and keep adding more is just a way to appease some people,” Bustamante said.
Even having 35 homes on this property, nestled in the Santa Fe National Forest, greatly increases the chances of starting a wildfire, he said, especially if the accommodations are used as short-term rentals for vacationers who organize parties.
Candi DePauw of Soledad, Calif., A resident who owns five acres near the creek, said she appreciates Peters scaling the project, but noted that the removed lots are furthest from the creek. This leaves 15 lots near the water.
“These are the ones that worried me the most,” said DePauw, referring to the creek-side lots. “I am not sure that by cutting those of the [west] end contributes to the water quality problem.
DePauw said removing a portion that isn’t going to be built for at least a decade does not resolve how more immediate development could strain the aquifer and pollute the creek with septic runoff.
“I don’t think any of us focus on anything other than the first 19 [homes]”DePauw said.” For me personally, I don’t feel like we’ve won anything. “
A longtime downstream resident said the project would need to be scaled down even further to make him feel comfortable.
“I always say it’s still too much,” said Richard Valencia, who has lived in Cow Creek year round for 50 years.
Valencia and Bustamante both said Peters would have to sell the land to a conservation group who could turn it into a reserve.
Bustamante acknowledged that buyers should come up with a premium price, given that Peters paid $ 7.5 million for the ranch.
“I’d be curious what it would take to buy him back,” Bustamante said.