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LET’S WRITE & GET OUT TO AN IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEARING—On Case # 13-5380 Elevation, a Master Plan (MP) for a 214 unit apartment complex on 22 acres by Univest Rancho Viejo and Vedura Residential Operating. The third attempt for a Public Hearing on this complex before the County Development Review Committee (CDRC ) is scheduled for 15 May at 4 pm in the BCC Chamber at 102 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe.
It is axiomatic that many things are conceived and initially created well only to be subsequently degraded and even destroyed by their creators. That axiom may now be underway with Univest in Rancho Viejo (RV). Over the past four months, this project has gone from 400+ units to 214, from a 57 acre parcel of land within Rancho Viejo (RV) to 22 acres outside RV via de-annexation by Warren Thompson, from a Master Plan Amendment (MPA) to a new Master Plan (MP) replacing the original College North Master Plan (CNMP), and from planned single-family to piecemeal apartment development. We will have to wait until about 8 May, when the Agenda would be posted, to learn the next scheme by disingenuous Warren Thompson. Residents of RV should write critical letters to the CDRC before 8 May so they would be included in Member Packets for the meeting:
More importantly, RV residents should attend the Public Hearing on 15 May and verbally express their concerns. However, each speaker will be permitted only 2, at most 3, minutes; so it would be advantageous for 4-10 speakers to join in planned presentations, with each speaker taking only one point of criticism and stating it well in short time. Warren Thompson is attempting to reject his original vision for RV, the vision we bought into as residents. He is threatening the integrity, physical and aesthetic features, and quality of life of RV. We need to stop his wayward ways and bring him and RV back to the original vision. The Community College District Ordinance (CCDO) and covenants over our properties and HOAs provide us negligible protection; we are almost totally at the mercy of discretionary powers of CDRC & BCC.
Below are some, but not all, of my criticisms of the new, bad approach Warren Thompson is pushing for the 57 acre parcel originally in the CNMP. The new MP would be an unconscionable departure to CNMP as adopted in February 1997 and presented to the public and original and subsequent buyers of 20 residential properties developed in Phase-1, College Heights, of CNMP. Granting the new MP would unrightfully disenfranchise those owners. The new MP would affect only 22 of the undeveloped 57 acres in CNMP, itself only 87 acres. That would be piecemeal development of land, all 57 acres of which should be developed as a single, unified entity, congruous with College Heights, and integral to the entire Rancho Viejo (RV). SF County should not pursue nor permit piecemeal development under the Community College District Ordinance (CCDO).
Residents of RV own and reside under strict covenants, including membership in and control by homeowners associations (HOAs). Membership and dues payment to an HOA would not be required of residents of apartments proposed in the new MP, yet they would have access to trails, open space, and other amenities of paying residents. That is unequal, and unconscionable treatment under law. Development of apartments under the new MP would not be governed by an HOA; therefore, it would not be subject to architectural and other requirements of an adjacent HOA and RV overall. We can be sure that Thompson and Univest would not impose on developer Vedura HOA-like requirements it imposed on resident owners. Apartments would be an independent, incongruous island in the whole RV, a morally and legally objectionable condition. Provisions of SF County’s new Sustainable Land Development Code (SLDC) are inadequate to sustain quality communities like RV. Residents of RV need time to develop with Univest and BCC provisions in SLDC that will sustain features and quality-of-life in RV and other such communities.
The new MP application states that the applicant is ‘… seeking to bring the property into compliance with the CCDO by the MP’ and ‘…the CCDO designates the subject property as a Village Zone’. Use of those statements to justify the apartments is phony and deceitful, an egregious artifice toward getting their way. The 57 acres are far too small to be a village; they really are merely a portion of College Heights and a very small portion of the whole RV Community.
Before closing public hearing of case 13-5380, the CDRC must request of case manager Jose Larrañaga an explanation of the two statements in item 6 relative to provisions of the CCDO.
The RV developing on 2500 acres, already a fine community of 1300 single residences, abundant open space, trails, and vistas, should and must be treated as a single community, a single entity. Development of new, major segments of that 2500 acres must be done with architectural, functional, and social harmony. Already, Bicycle Technologies International and Easter Seals El Mirador are glaring, incongruous, and unwanted blights on the Community; RV does not need additional blight of the apartments proposed in the MP.
Very obviously, the site of Univest-Vedura’s proposed monolith apartment complex is a scheme to exploit future students of SFCC. As a resident of university towns over forty of my adult years, I know first-hand the deterioration of near-university neighborhoods caused by off- campus, student housing, both apartments and single family houses. Residents of RV do not want that deterioration to occur in their neighborhoods and community. Univest has land, e.g., near SR !4 or elsewhere in the 2500 acres of RV, much more suitable for apartments than the proposed site. For the welfare of Rancho Viejo, application 13-5380 must be denied with a request that Univest reapply for and complete College North Master Plan in the manner originally proposed and develop its other land north and east of SFCC via large master plans in conformity with the vision and intent of CCDO and the Rancho Viejo extant. Furthermore, CDRC must suggest strongly to BCC that it quickly amend CCDO and SLDC with regulations that assure compatibility of residential and commercial facets and sustainability of new communities like RV.
RV is a totally new community conceived and created by original land owners on virgin ranch land. Now only 13 years old, it is a special community of 1300 single-family residences, schools, churches, open spaces, trails, and superb vistas. It is a community of pleasing, harmonious structure and architectures of homes offering residents a high quality of life. Of my many concerns about this proposal, the greatest is the significant departure in community character and lack of compatible controls as commercial functions and structures are added to RV.
Until 2012, the vision of original land owners, who are among principals of Univest, was well achieved at RV and residents eagerly bought into that vision. Indeed, many of us paid lot premiums for that privilege. Univest now seeks to add commercial functions and structures to our Community, commencing in 2012 with Easter Seals El Mirador, BTI (Bicycle Technologies International), and now proposed apartment. We are not against commercial additions to RV; we are against the incompatible, degrading ways by which it is being done by Univest. Instead of working with residents to assure functionally, structurally, and architecturally harmonious commercial additions that retain superb qualities of RV, Univest works against us—against the Community.
What residents do with their properties is highly controlled by covenants and homeowner association fees and regulations that are good for the Community. No comparable covenants and association controls apply to commercial development in RV, and Univest is indifferent to, even against controls, aesthetics, and harmony. Easter Seals, BTI, and proposed apartments are in location, function, and architecture inappropriate, ugly, incongruous with, and degrading of the major portion of our Community, the large, adjacent residential units. Further commercial development in RV must be done in conformity with meaningful covenants and oversight by HOAs.
Santa Fe County is no help to us in adding well commercial functions to our Community. Its CCDO and new SLDC really do not address factors affecting harmonious development and sustainability of new communities. That major deficiency and irresponsibility of both ordinances is detrimental to RV and other new communities.