Rio Rancho city council approves controversial zoning change

RIO RANCHO, NM (KRQE) – The Rio Rancho city council unanimously approved a controversial zone change, during their Wednesday evening meeting.

Now, the developer is hoping it can work with neighbors in the area to smooth things over.

The Unser gateway in Rio Rancho is booming with more and more houses being built, and a long list of projects in the works.

"You look around and you still see an enormous amount of raw land, but underneath things are really starting to bubble," said Jeanie Springer with Springer 5 Investments.

One of those projects, Unser Pavillion West, is going to take place on the corner of Wellspring and 21st Street, right behind Unser Pavillion.

"We’re looking for some bigger users that are going to bring jobs and economic growth into this area," said Springer.

The project has come with its fair share of pushback, including a six-page petition signed by residents in the area.

Those neighbors are unhappy with a zoning change that would allow the plot to be used for commercial purposes instead of housing.

Justin Sawyer, an attorney representing 17 homeowners in the area, says the zone change could be classified as spot zoning.

"Spot zoning is an attempt to wrench a single lot from its environment, and give it a new rating that disturbs the tenure of the neighborhood," said Sawyer.

However, Sawyer’s argument and the six-page petition still didn’t stop the council from approving the change.

Now, Springer 5 Investments say it hopes it can work with the community to keep the city moving in a positive direction.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide a community we can all be proud of – that’s high quality, that represents the best Rio Rancho," said Springer.

Springer 5 Investments say it’s received a lot of interest in the property, but it will be some time before construction begins.

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