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