Belen annexes land for commercial development despite objections from neighbors


BELEN — The town of Belen has just grown a bit and has the ability to secure additional businesses as neighbors object.

The Belen City Council approved the annexation of 5.84 acres of land on the I-25 bypass and Edmundo Road. In addition to annexing the land, the council also changed the zoning – which was previously designated Residential/Agricultural by Valencia County – to Commercial 2.

Councilors Danny Bernal Jr. and Steve Holdman voted in favor, while Councilor Frank Ortega voted against. Councilor Yvette Padilla was not at the July 5 meeting.

The applicant, Jonathan Trujillo, who is purchasing the subject land, originally requested that the property be rezoned to allow for a gated community with custom-built homes and a smaller area, 1.5 acres, for commercial development.

Steven Tomita, director of city development services, said after several hearings, the planning and zoning commissioners recommended that council approve the annexation and a C-2 zone change.

“It’s a fantastic location because of its proximity to businesses and I-25. Los Lunas has reached its maximum capacity and the only place to expand now is in Belen,” Trujillo wrote in his application. “This site would be perfect for a restaurant or strip mall and would serve the needs of the entire community.”

At the public hearing earlier this month, Trujillo told council he met with a developer in Los Lunas who is interested in commercial property, which now covers the entire 5.8 acres.

Although the commercial developer is interested in setting up a business on the site, several nearby neighbors are not happy with the idea. Tomita said several people living in the area attended all three P&Z meetings, opposing the request.

Councilman Frank Ortega expressed concern that the city had not updated its comprehensive plan and wanted to know if there was an impact study on the project.

“I’m curious how this is going to affect the sewage treatment plant,” Ortega said. “What is the quality of life of the residents there? You have to listen to the people. »

Michael Padilla, a resident of Edmundo Road, presented council with a petition with approximately 80 signatures from residents who opposed Trujillo’s candidacy. He also asked who would like to develop a business on the property, which is, in part, behind an old single-width trailer.

“We all see the trailer there,” Padilla said. “Who is going to want to build a business off the back of this property. It does not mean anything.

“We always admire the agriculture of this region,” he said. “I just hope you’re listening to us.”

Another resident, Toni Barrow, addressed the council, saying she had lived in the area for 54 years.

“Belen was a metropolis then, five grocery stores, five dealerships, etc.,” Barrow said of the area when she moved in. “We have to keep it small, that’s the attraction. Mr. Tomita doesn’t live here and doesn’t understand farms.

“I’m not too sure that at this point a commercial venture would be an advantage. I would hate to see a concrete slab.

Another resident, John Nesslage, said he was also against the app, saying: ‘If they want to develop business, then move 100 years south.’

“I love our community; we are good neighbors in the town of Belen,” Schwitzer said. “We ask you to be good neighbors with us. I am against this annexation.

Tomita told council that the city’s current comprehensive plan identifies the I-25 bypass as a commercial corridor, meaning the land is intended for business development.

“Currently, there is no development activity on this land,” Tomita said, “and the city is under no obligation to follow existing county land uses. It is the governing body that has the last word, which best serves the city of Belen.

Bernal asked if the petition contained names of people living in the town of Belen. Tomita said no.

“One of my concerns is the comprehensive plans,” Bernal said. “We can move forward with the current one, but we need to update it as soon as possible.”

Tomita told council that the planning and zoning commission was working on the plan and an outside company was helping.

“As far as I am concerned, this area needs to be developed and there is business interest,” Bernal added.

“I know one of the concerns is that we’re not filling our vacancies in the city, but that’s because the interest isn’t there. Traffic doesn’t come here, but it’s at the I-25 Bypass.


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