P&Z green lights subdivision in WR

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The P&Z has final say on subdivisions; plan will head into public outreach on blasting process

By Bennett Horne

A subdivision in White Rock consisting of 161 residential lots and an adjoining commercial lot got the approval of the Los Alamos County Planning and Zoning Commission during its meeting Wednesday night.

The Mirador subdivision will be located in the northeast corner of the intersection of SR 4 and Sherwood Boulevard, and will continue west to approximately Pajarito Road.

“We’re happy this was approved and that we can move on to the next phase of planning,” said Los Alamos County Planning Manager Tamara Baer.

The approval of the Final Subdivision Plat creates 161 new residential lots and one commercial lot over three existing parcels. The parcel designated A-19-A-1 is zoned R-1-5 (single-family residential) and consists of 34.35-plus acres. The second parcel, A-19-A-2A, is zoned (downtown – neighborhood center overlay) and consists of 12.94-plus acres. A third parcel, A-19-A-2B, is also zoned DT-NCO and consists of 12.97-plus acres. Los Alamos County owns that parcel.

The subdivision will be located on the first two, privately owned tracts of land.

The majority of the conversation – which started in the public hearing portion of the meeting – surrounding the case dealt with safety issue of pedestrians crossing SR 4 to get to schools and businesses on the other side.

According to the Conditions of Approval of the Final Subdivision Plat, there are three instances in which the developer shall provide an updated Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA).

The first is at the time of the submission of a site plan for the commercial tract. The second is upon requirement by the county engineer based on traffic operational performance, safety and/or capacity issues upon completion of Phases I, II or III of residential build-out. The third is upon requirement by the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Options discussed by commissioners included a pedestrian tunnel under SR 4, a pedestrian bypass over SR 4 or a traffic light, which seemed the most popular since some materials are already in place for a light.

Despite those options, it was realized that final say in the matter would have to come from New Mexico Department of Transportation based on pedestrian warrants and studies of the intersection.

“I do encourage the county to work with the developer using past studies and with whatever influence we have with the Department of Transportation to figure this out and not wait for a problem that could happen,” said commissioner Terry Priestley, who was elected commission chairman at the outset of the meeting. “But I do appreciate the cooperation between the applicant and the county. It seems like there’s been a lot of work done to get us here.”

The vote was originally scheduled for the commission’s March 28 meeting, but was postponed due to an emergency in the family of project owner and developer Adam Thornton, as well as the need to make some modifications to the project’s conditions of approval.

Wednesday night the following commissioners voted yes: Beverly Neal-Clinton (who was elected vice-chairman of the commission earlier in the meeting); Melissa Arias; Jean Dewart; Jessie Dixon; Ashley Mamula; Terry Priestley; and April Wade. Neal Martin abstained and Craig Martin was absent.

Since the Planning and Zoning Commission has final say on subdivisions, the project does not have to go before the County Council.

Instead it will head straight into its next phase, which will be the arrangement by Thornton of public outreach on the blasting process that will be necessary to clear the basalt rock before utilities can be installed.