North Valley land "developer" David Gonzales got another zoning approval last night. This time for a big parcel known as Sandia Ranch on North Edith. The Albuquerque Journal covered it today and the Tribune had a silly ghost story piece about it yesterday.
The owner didn't testify during the tw0-appeal hearing before the Board of County Commissioners last night. When project neighbor, attorney and opponent Linda Dietz sought to question him, she couldn't.
Her question had to do with multiple code violations on the site. Dietz pointed out that for the entire 40 month period over which Gonzales and his agent have kept their application active, no code enforcement has taken place. The place is an active hazard, a crying shame of outright neglect, a historic property in horrendous decay. But hands-off.
Good thing to know. Get a violation, just file. For most people this would be rather expensive. But clean-up costs on Sandia Ranch will be huge. And David Gonzales and his agent are seasoned experts at working this code. He has long been in the practice of buying agricultural land and getting it rezoned for industrial uses - usually the lowest form of "industrial use" - outdoor storage. He's been doing it for at least 15 years and now is supported by a virulent "property rights" business association of which he is a founding member.
After opponents spoke, the agent was dismissive of concerns. He made some vaguely insulting remarks calling the Dietz's testimony an "interesting ghost story" and twice referring to how she had "screamed". Then he took it to another level and suggested the case was about the well educated and well off versus Mister Gonzales and his family just trying to use their land.
The appeals were denied and the Commission gave Mr. Gonzales what he wanted on a 4-1 vote.