As the year winds down, Valencia County property owners who relied on the Valley Improvement Association as their property owners association will need to make other arrangements.
After a majority vote by members in good standing in late July, the decades-old association is now in the process of dissolution.
Paul Baca, the CEO of VIA, said the board of directors felt this was the “smart” time to begin the dissolution of the corporation.
“Their thinking was to dissolve the association while we can and have some resources to carry out the plan,” Baca said.
About 86 percent of members in good standing — property owners who were current on their assessments — voted in favor of dissolving VIA, he said.
“This process follows the bylaws and articles,” Baca said.
Valley Improvement Association, a nonprofit corporation, was established in 1969 after the creation of several subdivisions and communities in southeast Valencia County by Horizon Corporation. While VIA is not associated with Horizon, it has a legal authority for the enforcement of covenants and restrictions for several Horizon created communities and the authority to collect assessments created by indentures Horizon placed on properties it sold.
“The intent was to have those (assessments) run for 40 years and by 2009 or 2010, they thought the area would be taken over by a governing agency, not a quasi-government like VIA had become,” he said.
During it’s existence, VIA served as the enforcer of codes and covenants for properties, as well as providing upkeep for common pieces of property in the old Horizon developments, maintaining the roads and other infrastructure, such as lighting.
The dissolution will effect the communities of Rio Del Oro, Canyon Del Rio, Enchanted Mesa and Playa Verde, Las Maravillas Unit I, Pasitos Del Cielo Units 1-3 and Pasitos Del Cielo Unit 5.
Baca said the remainder of VIA-owned property has been under contract since October 2018, and sales have been slowly closing. With those closings come the payments of back property taxes.
Over the years, VIA has taken back numerous properties from owners due to unpaid assessments. Those properties often came with unpaid property taxes as well, and clearing the taxes has been more of a challenge due to a $125 administrative fee charged per lot by the state taxation and revenue department
“If we can come to an agreement with tax and rev in terms of the fee, it could expedite these closings,” Baca said.
The contract on the properties expires in 2025, he said, and if all the properties aren’t sold by then, they will be transferred to a qualified entity — a local government agency.
For instance, any unsold property in the Rio Del Oro and Canyon Del Rio areas will be transferred to either the Belen or Los Lunas school districts, park or community center sites in the Los Lunas Schools district will be transferred to the village of Los Lunas and the same will be done in the city of Rio Communities.
With the assessments expiring on developments through the years and revenues dropping, Baca said after a financial analysis, it was determined the association couldn’t continue to survive.
“The dissolution plan will take about five years to work through and implement,” he said. “We will still be working to defend against illegal grazing on our properties, range management and pursuing action against (taxation and revenue) since the state has created an unmarketable piece of property based on the $125 fee. It’s an administrative fee but they haven’t done any administrative work. We will continue to fight that.”
Property owners in the communities who are part of the dissolution will have to decide how the areas will be managed going forward, Baca said.
“Covenants and restrictions run with the property. VIA was the enforcement by virtue of the indentures by Horizon, which also created the legal authority to enter into a contract for maintenance,” he said. “We can transfer our authority to another like entity, but I don’t know who that would be right now. The reality is, we have been talking about this for a long time.”
Valley Improvement Association Dissolution Plan
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.