De­vel­oper eyes Weimer lands

The Taos News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jesse Moya [email protected]­

A hous­ing de­vel­op­ment pro­posed for the Weimer Road area has sev­eral in the area won­der­ing what’s the next step for their back­yard.

A pro­posed de­vel­op­ment off Paseo del Cañon could pro­vide for sev­eral small and af­ford­able houses thanks to the vi­sion of gen­eral con­trac­tor Alexan­der Schoenseld, of J. Alexan­der Com­pany, who pre­sented his ideas to the town of Taos Plan­ning and Zon­ing Com­mis­sion Nov. 7. The de­vel­op­ment would take 22 acres on the cor­ner of Weimer Road and Paseo del Cañon and turn them into a small sub­di­vi­sion for homes Schoenseld is hop­ing will be af­ford­able for the work­ing pop­u­la­tion of the area.

“Re­ally, the idea is af­ford­able hous­ing,” Schoenseld said. “We’re not look­ing to build large homes for peo­ple who can’t af­ford them.”

Schoenseld said he has seen the dif­fi­culty renters and new home­own­ers in Taos must go through to se­cure a place to live and wanted to lend a hand to al­le­vi­ate some of the hous­ing cri­sis for those work­ing in the com­mu­nity. The orig­i­nal sketch in­di­cated a plan to sec­tion five parcels of land in the 22-acre plot of desert and set 32 units of hous­ing in at least one of the sec­tions.

The land sits across from the Taos Youth and Fam­ily Cen­ter and be­hind the Vista Del Sol sub­di­vi­sion near Holy Cross Hos­pi­tal. Sev­eral walk­ing and ATV trails dart the plot of land where Schoenselde is hop­ing to build.

But neigh­bors less en­thu­si­as­tic Schoenselde’s plans.

“I thought we were pretty com­fort­able at 5,000 peo­ple in Taos,” said La Luz res­i­dent Allen Be­sen. “Why does Taos need to ex­pand in that way and be­come an­other Al­bu­querque?”

Be­sen, who has lived in the Weimer Road area for nearly 10 years, said the con­struc­tion would ruin the area and is con­cerned at the po­ten­tial im­pact this would have on res­i­dents who moved out are about there for the views and quiet scenery.

“We all moved to a place that was de­vel­oped, but does it have to keep be­ing de­vel­oped?” he asked. “If they build hun­dreds of units, isn’t that go­ing to bring hun­dreds of cars?”

Shortly af­ter the Nov. 7 meet­ing, Be­sen or­ga­nized a com­mu­nity meet­ing where four other neigh­bors in the area met to dis­cuss the plans pre­sented at the meet­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Be­sen, those at the meet­ing were in agree­ment about the po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment and shared the same con­cerns. One of those con­cerns was the scope of the work and the po­ten­tial for the area to be un­der con­stant con­struc­tion while the pro­ject is built.

Cur­rently, Vista Del Sol near the hos­pi­tal, is the most pop­u­lated area in the vicin­ity with over 50 lots in the sub­di­vi­sion.

Be­sen, along with other neigh­bors in the area, of­ten use the empty lot for var­i­ous out­door ac­tiv­i­ties and are also con­cerned that, along with their ac­tiv­i­ties, wildlife in the area will be af­fected by any de­vel­op­ment.

“To the ev­i­dence that we see, this is pri­vate land and the landown­ers have the right to de­velop it as they see fit,” said plan­ning and zon­ing com­mi­sion chair­man Dou­glas Pat­ter­son dur­ing the meet­ing.

While the plans were pre­sented to the com­mis­sion, Schoenseld said they have taken things back to the draw­ing board for the time be­ing and are re­work­ing some of the de­tails. Plans pre­sented at the Novem­ber meet­ing will not nec­es­sar­ily be the con­crete vi­sion Schoenseld wants to run with, but he did say more in­for­ma­tion would be avail­able for the pub­lic once plans have been re­worked.

Shoenseld wanted to have some con­struc­tion go­ing as soon as pos­si­ble but is hop­ing to get some of the de­vel­op­ment go­ing by next win­ter if all goes well.

“There is no ap­provals that have been made,” said Pat­ter­son. “This is a cour­tesy pre­sen­ta­tion by the ap­pli­cant to put their pro­ject out in front of the com­mis­sion. This is sim­ply a pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion of an idea at this point.”

Op­po­nents can rest easy for the time be­ing as the de­vel­op­ment is still sev­eral steps away from be­ing put in front of the plan­ning and zon­ing com­mis­sion for ap­proval.

Shoenseld said he has had his eye on the Weimer area, along with a lot just across the street to the west, for about two years. He and his as­so­ci­ates are not ask­ing for any vari­ances or spe­cial use per­mits at this time and said he is try­ing to be a “good neigh­bor” while work­ing out the de­tails of the de­vel­op­ment.

“I live here. I love this town,” he said. “Ev­ery­thing we’re do­ing will be kept un­der­neath the height limit. We’re not ask­ing for it to be denser.”

Shoenseld said he was try­ing to work out plans to put be­fore the com­mis­sion by the end of the year. Ev­ery­thing is spec­u­la­tive at this point, Shoenseld said, and more in­for­ma­tion would be avail­able as the process moves for­ward.

‘Re­ally, the idea is af­ford­able hous­ing. We’re not look­ing to build large homes for peo­ple who can’t af­ford them.’

— Alexan­der Schoenseld, gen­eral con­trac­tor

Cour­tesy photo

Po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ment be­tween Paseo del Cañon and La Luz Drive has some area res­i­dents un­easy about the fu­ture of their quiet neigh­bor­hood.

Jesse Moya

Nor­mally a quiet desert land­scape, the prop­erty on the cor­ner of Weimer Road and Paseo Del Cañon could see some de­vel­op­ment in the next few years. Some res­i­dents in the area are ques­tion­ing whether the de­vel­op­ment is ap­pro­pri­ate for their quiet cor­ner of Taos.

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