Category Archives: Planning & Development

Pilot/Flying J Proposal Underway

On May 9th, representatives of the Pilot/Flying J Corporation gave a presentation on a new proposal to build a Travel Center at the intersection of Rancho Viejo Blvd and NM-14.  The meeting was not well publicized and about 60 people from the area attended the meeting.  Please see The New Mexican article on May 10 for more details.  The following are my personal notes from the meeting and may contain inaccuracies and omissions – use at your own risk.  My intent is solely to inform residents that this project proposal is underway.


  • Mr. Siebert – Made comment about how a Master Plan becomes invalid after 5 years if development doesn’t take place. Several times during the meeting, they made the point that the area is zoned for this time of development.  “Conditional use” requires hearing officer, then planning commission (July?), then County Commissioners (Sep?).
  • According to Siebert, per the Santa Fe County Land Development Code, all residents within 500 ft. must be notified by mail (there are a few in the Turquoise Trail Business Park). The SLDC doesn’t require notification signage, but they were “kind enough” to put up a small sign in RV.  They thought the meeting was well attended.
  • Ross Schaver, Pilot’s Project Engineer treated us to a presentation of how wonderful Pilot is, how they have 600 locations, how wonderful the Haslam family is, and how they also own several fast food chains. They want to create jobs for everyone and increase commercial property values.  He claimed that extending the sewer line would accomplish this.
  • Pilot is currently building 20 stores per year. They are the largest diesel supplier in the US and and the largest hauler of supplies for the fracking industry. They also own a construction company.
  • The “Rancho Viejo Partners” were “approached” by Pilot and the land is now under contract. The parcel is 26 acres split into 3 lots – the travel center will be on a 10 acre site immediately across from Rancho Viejo Blvd on highway 14. There will be one entrance in and out, and the center will include a Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.  (The 2 lots will probably be for hotel/retail, like most Pilot Centers.) The project is currently at the “proposal” stage and will go to county hearing officer, Nancy Long, soon.
  • The site has perfect infrastructure including power and natural gas. The sewage line may run to a lift station at Gruda Vet Clinic, or the prison system. Water will be County (if they are willing).  Doing a “willing and able letter” to County.
  • Detention pond will contain all fuel spills, which Pilot will monitor to make sure they comply with all state and county codes. Roof runoff will go to culvert. (When challenged by the audience, Shaver challenged us to do our own testing, because Pilot NEVER pollutes any areas it operates in.)
  • Pilot’s traffic engineer is doing study now. The Center will contain 70 semi stalls and they anticipate 300 semi’s per day.  They say this is small for them and that there should be no traffic congestion.
  • Lighting: all Cree. (They said this as if that will be sufficient to meet codes and not violate night sky restrictions.)

Questions/comments from audience:

  • A (female) truck driver in the audience said all 70 stalls will be idling and very noisy.   Shaver claims that company testing shows decibels will be low.  He went on to say that newer rigs have sound mitigating equipment and ignored her remaining point about older trucks.
  • How many jobs? 80-90 jobs. 3 Corporate Managers who will make 6 figures. Everyone else will be local talent. Half will be part time and all will make better than minimum wage.
  • The Center will create a $2-3M tax base – gross receipts taxes will take care of roads.
  • RV only has 2 exits. How will this enhance home values and how will Pilot alleviate traffic problems? Shaver thinks extended sewer will increase commercial property values.  He did not answer how this will increase residential property values.
  • How will they control pollution? They  have secondary tanks to catch fuel leaks. This goes to the detention pond.
  • A homeowner said she can smell the coffee and donuts from thd BLM offices. How will Pilot control diesel smells?  Shaver’s answer: “I hope you’ll smell the Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts instead.”
  • A former law enforcement officer from the Arizona City area said he and other cops stopped meeting at the the Flying J on I-10 because it became a bottleneck that they couldn’t get out of and it was too noisy for meetings. He said he didn’t move to RV to go through the same thing that AZ City residents are dealing with.
  • Emergency Evac plan?  Shaver totally denied noise and traffic concerns. Pilot only builds nice, safe facilities that comply with all state and local regulations.
  • What about road abuse and damage – who will repair NM-14 and surrounding roads? Ross says there won’t be any and that Pilot follow all state regs re: axle loading.
  • How much will taxes increase as a result of increased policing? Shaver says he has a letter from a police chief saying how wonderful Pilot Centers are. Comments about crime at truck stops are untrue  generalizations. Most truck drivers are like the nice lady in the audience (she’d left) and just want to make an honest living. A resident objected saying she researched crime stats on Travel Centers and that Shaver’s statement was uninformed.
  • Where else did you consider? Pilot’s real estate group looked for 2 years until they found this spot. They have plans for 3-5 more from here to Denver.
  • Next Step?  Planning Officer will review proposal to see whether it meets codes, etc., then on to County Planning Commission.

If you would like to voice your opinion to our County Commissioner, Ed Moreno, he can be reached at 505-986-6210 or

Irrigation Engineering Study

Ranchland Utilities requested an engineering study (each association paid  ~$5K for the MolzenCorbin study) to examine repair and maintenance costs, and make recommendations regarding future upgrades to the system to ensure that the entire community has irrigation water as growth continues.  Please click on this link: Irrigation Future to go to the page on Irrigation and download a copy of the MolzenCorbin study.

Educate yourselves, residents!  The character of our community is at stake.  None of these costs were anticipated in the audit that was published at last year’s RVSCA annual meeting – nor are they in any reserve studies.

Ranchland utilities is proposing much needed “Homework Group” meetings and needs residents to participate.  They have asked each association for $2000 to pay for these facilitated meetings.  The RVSCA BOD decided at the April BOD meeting to ask R.U. to reduce the cost – indicating to some residents that they are not prioritizing this issue to the level it deserves.  Contact your BOD and ask them to publish the final study and support the Homework Group meetings – then get out there and attend the meetings!

WHY Would Our Board President Refuse To Negotiate With Ranchland Utilities?

An important question/revelation occurred.  While driving through our Community yesterday, it dawned on me. WHY did Carol, our Board President, refuse to negotiate with Ranchland Utilities for the reclaimed/irrigation water?  Let alone also disband the Cooperative Task Force working toward a solution with Ranchland, without notice?  We all know what the outcome would be.   SO DOES CAROL.   And there you go.   Her quest for importance, power, she WANTS to be in charge of this.   Did she intentionally sabotage our relationship/service/contract with Ranchland Utilities, to try to FORCE the Community to take over, build, run and manage the reclaimed water and irrigation, of which she will be in charge?  (See Ranchland.)

We as a community have no way to do this.   We cannot take on a private enterprise, or such an endeavor-the cost of having to build our own facility and system, operate and manage. And surely to add, not an unfair set up where all the Estate lots receive free reclaimed (gray) water that the other residents pay for.   This is an unacceptable scenario forced upon by Carol and it’s on her hands that we no longer will have irrigation for our Community. We are not in the business and will not be held liable for such an uncontrollable cost and maintenance that we shouldn’t be in as a residential Community. The end result will be, anything able to survive naturally without irrigation.  Our landscaping costs will decrease paying only for maintenance of remaining self sufficient landscaping.  If it dies, it gets removed, and/or covered with rocks.   And that will be the only choice we have without Ranchland.

RV Moderators: 1) Regarding estate lots and gray water; while there is one estate lot in the Capitol Peak area that receives irrigation water, this is not typical policy for all estate lots.  2) The president disbanded the 2013 Infrastructure task force that was holding discussions with R.U. and is currently meeting with them in closed sessions unavailable to residents.  Despite contract expiration R.U. has continued to supply gray water on a month-to-month basis, and recently requested that additional residents be included in discussions pertaining to irrigation infrastructure (and a presentation for the Nov. 18 annual meeting).

Apartment Complex Approved by Commissioners

Reposted for by BlogMaster:

10 September 2014 – Report on Apartment Complex Project near SFCC: Warren Thompson and Univest won the apartment war, with only Stefanics and Holian (?) voting against. However, our loss went beyond just the apartments: Stefanics, our representative, offered us no support, no vocal opposition to the apartments—no serious questions or comments against, etc. She just gave us an empty ‘NO’ vote. I do not like to be played with, but that is precisely what the BCC did with RV residents from 8 July – 9 September. They played with us most at the meeting by following a prearranged script: Let residents speak without time limits but confined to specific topics and with speaker intimidation by two Commissioners; with Stefanics indifference, Anaya moved for acceptance of the apartments; Jennifer Jenkins (Univest rep) was permitted a lengthy, dramatic plea for the apartments; the Commission had negligible substantive questions and discussion; the vote came quickly and decisively. Clearly, the decision had been made before the meeting. I wonder if a lawsuit could bear fruit, as was the case in Galisteo earlier this year. I doubt it worth the effort and, expense, but check out this link. Personally, I believe BCC decided to abide and uphold scheming, distortion, deception, and dishonesty by Univest as it pursued apartments and self-interest over the past 1.5 years. It remains to be seen whether anything positive for residents and the future of RV will come from the Homework Group motivated by Univest.

Summary of July 30th NE/SE Connector Meeting

Posted for Glen Smerage

The meeting was conducted at SFCC by Carlos Ruiz of Occam Consultants, who are conducting the study of connector locations with participation by County (Public Works) and State representatives. There was a large, active audience. The meeting focused on the SE Connector; the NE Connector received little attention and interest.

NE Connector (NEC): Would connect to Point A (large left turn south from I-25 of Rabbit Road extension) and follow I-25 closely as a frontage road, crossing Richards, probably with a roundabout, and into Dinosaur Trail. Two points mainly came out.

  • A south-going dip in the NEC adjacent to Richards permits questionable (undecided) on/off ramps at Richards incident to I-25 North.
  • Dinosaur Trail is a private road, so connecting NEC into Dinosaur as a frontage road is questionable.

SE Connector (SEC): From four alternatives, a government Committee and Occam seem to have selected a north/south corridor bisecting the SFCC campus as easiest, cheapest, and best to relieve traffic on Richards, as its prime objective. It would go approximately from Point A to Avenida Del Sur; College Drive would be extended to SEC; most intersections would be roundabouts. Construction would be in 2016.

Ruiz took three primary points with him from attendee comments.

  • Move SEC to eastern boundary of SFCC campus and not bisect the campus. Linda Segal, spokeswoman for SFCC Board, stated that it does not want the camps bisected by SEC.
  • Do not build SEC unless built all the way to Avenida Del Sur, otherwise would not mitigate traffic problems and increase connectivity.
  • Deemphasize current north entrance to SFCC (originally intended for emergency?), and do not connect College Drive into SEC. That really would not solve traffic problems and usefully increase connectivity; furthermore, it would exacerbate traffic on College Drive for residents of College Heights and future residents.

The following are my observations and thoughts from the meeting.

  • The Committee may have rejected more easterly corridors in large part due to objections from a large (Greer family? G E Richards Property LLC?) landholder there.
  • There appears not to be enough money to do an SEC properly and well. Yet, SEC would be a public gift to the landowners mentioned above when they proceed with development of their land, and there appears to be no inclination to seek a monetary contribution from them to SEC.
  • The corridor study and Committee appear to be taking a short-term, minimalist approach to achieving an SEC, both in function and cost. Looking a few years ahead, the SEC should be pursued as an arterial road, with good, long-term utility and true traffic problem solving.
  • An archeological site may preclude one or more easterly SEC corridors, but no indication was given that it has been surveyed and verified adequately.
  • Public hearings and real decisions by BCC would not occur until 2015; questionable BCC input to date.

— Glen Smerage

Proposed Apartment Complex – Not Defeated Yet

I want to extend a personal thank you to the residents of RVS who helped the College Heights neighborhood in our opposition to the Master Plan change for the Elevation apartment complex.
Many of you volunteered time, expertise, letter writing and your personal attendance at the recent CDRC meeting, which sided with us in an extraordinary 5 to 1 vote.
The minutes from that meeting, which captures the passion and sentiment of our community, are available on line at this link.
But the fight is not yet over. The CDRC is an advisory panel and so the case went before the real decision-makers, the Board of County Commissioners at 5 p.m. on Tuesday July 8 in the chamber at the county administration building, Palace and Grant Aves.
The College Heights residents gave a formal presentation, and we brought our attorney, Chris Graeser. In a surprising move, the Commissioners invoked a rule to convene an executive session, excluding public input. Instead of adopting the CDRC recommendation, the vote has been postponed until September. It is now more important than ever to address the commissioners directly about your vision for Rancho Viejo, promises made, and how you would like to see our community grow.
The CDRC members voted to support our vision of Rancho Viejo, now we must work to affirm that with the top policymakers.

Call For Resident Action

Posted by/for

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.

NE/SE Connector Meeting

Monday, March 10, 5:30 PM, Jemez 1&2

See “Useful Links” Page for map of connector and proposed I-25 interchange.

February Board Meeting Comments

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There was no new business discussed at the board meeting this month. The board president deciding to move the homeowner comments to the end of the meeting (based on a legal opinion) is still an issue for homeowners. Since the board president decides the agenda for the meetings, it is her prerogative despite objections from the homeowners.

A proposed dog park is in the works. Let’s hope that more research is done on this. We need to know about maintenance, taxes, and whether or not the majority of homeowners approve of this additional common area responsibility.

The communications committee conducted a survey of about 100 homeowners via the website regarding many questions ranging from “what is your safety concern for our community” to “would you be in favor of changing the landscaping to gravel vs. native plants”. This is disappointing numbers since we have approximately 475 homeowners. I encourage homeowners to participate in your association, whether it’s volunteering for a committee or attending the meetings. Allowing our community’s future plans to be decided by a few homeowners can be disadvantageous.

Speaking of volunteering. It was stated at the board meeting that volunteers were needed for the landscape committee since there are no members currently on the committee, just the board liaison, community manager, and Heads Up manager. So imagine my surprise when I was told by the community manager that the board denied my application to volunteer for the landscape committee.

Our community is receiving more doggie stations. Although I approve of this, I see no record of this expenditure being approved by the board members. There are a few other expenditures that have not been approved by the board as well. For example, a raise was given to the community manager but a couple of board member did not recall the board approving this. It was stated that the board only approved the budget for the increase and not the actual raise for the community manager. Unfortunately, we will not know the outcome of this due to it being an executive sessions issue.

The expenses for the office move appears to be high and concerned a couple of board members. They are also concerned with the projected monthly increases for telephone, copier, etc. due to moving to a separate office space.

It was nice to see the behavior improve at this meeting. Let’s hope this continues. The next board meeting is March 25th. Hope you can attend. Thanks.

New Santa Fe County Sustainable Land Development Code

In December 2012, the County Commissioners approved a new Sustainable Land Development Code for Santa Fe County.  Among other changes, the new guidelines require that all new residential construction attain a HERS rating = 70 for better energy efficiency (see for HERS).  The commissioners estimate that the new SLDC will take 6 mths to one year to go into effect – new zoning maps require approval first.   The SLDC will affect parts of La Entrada and future developed parcels in the College District area.