LOS LUNAS — As growth continues on the westside of Los Lunas, the Los Lunas Village Council approved a new area plan near the base of El Cerro de Los Lunas to better accommodate an expected influx of homes.
Through two resolutions approved during a Dec. 8 meeting, Los Lunas councilors shrunk the area allotted for the Huning Ranch Area plan and approved the Los Senderos area plan to the south of the already-developed neighborhood.
“There have been some inconsistencies and standards within the Huning Ranch Area Plan that have been proven difficult to administer by staff, so the intent of the amendment was to clean up some of those standards and make sure that they are implementable,” said Jessica Lawlis, with the architecture firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, who led the area plan. “The change to the southern portion that is being rebranded as Los Senderos is really to look at, how do we better coordinate the land uses and the transportation infrastructure with the planned intersection at Morris Road, and again to accommodate the changes in the housing market we’ve seen since this plan (Huning Ranch) was adopted in the early 2000s.”
Erin Callahan, the village’s community development director, said village staff got the ball rolling on the new plan following a series of amendments.
“Every time there is an amendment, the original master planning is compromised a little bit because there is a little bit of a change to what was anticipated,” Callahan said. “In addition, the original area plan, what’s currently approved has various provisions that were written in a way that it’s merely impossible to enforce.”
She gave the example of one which was already amended — a conditional use permit for every accessory structure rather than the traditional public hearing process.
The conversation of concern began to center around the heavy traffic on N.M. 6, however the developers of the newly-established area plan said impact on the highway is no different than what was already approved through the previous plan, which was adopted in 2004.
Only a preliminary traffic analysis was performed prior to the plan’s approval, not a full traffic study. They added the new I-25 interchange would really be the game changer in terms of traffic mitigation away from Main Street.
“There are definitely concerns about traffic,” said Will Gleason, with Dekker/Perich/Sabatini. “We know that State Highway 6 is overloaded, but we feel like this is not something that is going to significantly change that dynamic right now. And at the eventual construction of the interchange, that will really change the dynamic.”
According to the developers, the goal for the community is to create a space where residents can access basic needs, such as a grocery store, within the development itself. They also wanted to expand recreational and open space opportunities.
With the new plan also comes space for more houses. The original Huning Ranch Area Plan allowed for 4,000 units within its undeveloped southern portion, while the newly approved plan allows for 5,500 homes.
In its 18 years since adoption, Huning Ranch has been growing at a rate of about 110 homes per year. Los Senderos developers are anticipating about the same rate of growth with a spike in the early days of development.
During the public hearing prior to the vote, one Los Lunas resident spoke out against the proposed plan on behalf of the Jubilee Community Council. Del Conroy brought up concerns about traffic, lack of an environmental impact study, and an easement on the area which abuts a solar energy field.
“Everybody understands that development is going to occur. Everybody also understands that the housing market has changed, there is a need in Los Lunas for apartments, there is a need in Los Lunas for condos,” Conroy said. “Everyone agrees that that is the case and the development of that area is going to take place.
“There is not an objection, overall, saying no we don’t want you to approve this project. We don’t want to approve it, but not because we are opposed to some of the things they are providing.”
Mayor Charles Griego told Conroy following the vote that he agrees traffic should be looked at more in depth prior to the construction of a subdivision in the area.
The council unanimously approved both resolutions, allowing for the implementation of the new area plan.
Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history.