LOS LUNAS — Several property owners on Roberts Circle are appealing the Los Lunas Village Council’s decision to change the zoning of a property to allow for the construction of apartments on the street.

The Los Lunas Village Council unanimously voted to rezone the property at 7 Roberts Circle NE from an R-1 to C-1 zone, and granted property owners, Angel and Berenice Cabrera, a designated use permit to build an eight unit apartment complex.

Roberts Circle, in eastern Los Lunas, is a dead-end street located between Dion’s and Sangre de Cristo Catholic Church. The parcel in question is currently a vacant lot that is a little less than half an acre.

Five neighboring property owners recently filed an appeal in the 13th Judicial District Court against the Los Lunas Planning and Zoning Commission and Village Council.

In the appeal, the property owners are requesting an order of stay on “zoning change allowing for conditional variance use of multi-family apartments.” The appellants are Carolyn Smith, Dave Matzke, Johnny Casias, Pauline Casias and Ron Casias.

Proposed site plan of the apartments. Courtesy of John Kirkpatrick Architects.

The planning and zoning commission heard the Cabrera’s request on June 21 and recommended denial to the council based on concerns from surrounding property owners. In the appeal, some of the listed concerns include the apartments being too intense of a use for the lot and additional traffic, which would be detrimental to the already busy intersection.

An architect agent representing the Cabreras said he had a trip generation analysis done using the Institute of Traffic Engineers manual, which is what the New Mexico Department of Transportation uses.

He said based on the calculations, the addition of the apartments would only be contributing a very small percentage of traffic at the busy intersection. The council decided to table the zone change and designated use permit until the next council meeting so the village engineer could have time to review the presented trip generation analysis.

At the July 20 council meeting, Erin Callahan, the community development director in Los Lunas, said the village engineer does not believe the development will have a significant impact on traffic counts on Roberts Circle.

In the appeal, the plaintiffs said this analysis did not include a counter on the road and the data was inadequate. Additionally, they claim the apartments would lead to an increase in crime and drug activity, and would reduce property values in the area.

Since it is now rezoned as a C-1 zone, the appellants said the village would not be able to deny future designated use requests for apartments on the street, which would lead to adverse environmental impacts to the area.

In a letter sent to Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego, Matzke said the apartments would only have a 5-foot setback and he expressed concern about emergency access.

“To me, there is no room for a fire truck to enter the area. Also, the emergency access area is a very narrow alley,” Matzke wrote in the letter. “I surveyed the area myself in a compact vehicle and there was little room to turn around. A large emergency vehicle would have trouble moving.”

Griego responded that the site plan the Cabreras submitted complied with the requirements of the Los Lunas zoning code.

A hearing date by the district court has not yet been made.

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.