As a contentious and long-delayed plan to develop Campbell Ranch winds its way back through Edgewood’s planning process, the Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee (EBWPC) held a meeting to follow up on a letter it sent Edgewood late last year at the request of Bernalillo County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty.

That letter was addressed to the governing body at the time, and expressed concern that the amendments proposed by Campbell Ranch to its Master Plan removed a requirement that the State Engineer’s office “must issue a favorable opinion showing a 70-year supply of water for each subdivision,” among other concerns.

This week, EBWPC met to hammer out details for a follow-up to the new town government.

It’s the latest in more than 20 years of legal wrangling as Campbell has fought to build a residential and commercial area north of East Mountain High School off North 14.

The issue for the massive development—which at full build-out would be thousands of houses and businesses—has always been the availability of water, and the decades-long legal battle has centered on the availability of water for a development of that size.

Campbell’s CEO Robert Gately has estimated that full build-out would take 10 to 20 years.

At an hours-long meeting last September, which ended well after midnight, then picked up again the next day, Edgewood’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved an amended Master Plan; that decision was appealed, and was scheduled to be heard April 12.

The town got a letter from Attorney General Hector Balderas April 11 saying that the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission had likely violated the state’s Open Meetings Act at that September meeting, and recommending that the town re-vote on the issue.

The appeal was made on behalf of the San Pedro Creek Estates Homeowners Association and a new group, the East Mountain Protection Action Coalition, “based on seven procedural errors and/or abuses of discretion made by the Edgewood Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission in making its decision to approve the amended Master Plan for the Campbell Ranch subdivision,” according to the appeal.

That document says that there were contradictions between the amended Master Plan and existing town ordinances; that it relied on 20-year old ordinances that are no longer in effect; and that the San Pedro Creek Estates Homeowners Association should have been notified as abutting property owners; among other alleged errors.

The “abuses of discretion” by the Planning and Zoning Commission in September, according to the appeal include “conflicting definitions of Zoning not considered” in the decision and the commission failing to use its discretion to emphasize current ordinances.

Edgewood has jurisdiction over part of the Campbell Ranch Master Plan area, but not all of it, as the Master Plan extends into Bernalillo and Sandoval counties as well as Edgewood, after a controversial annexation of Campbell Ranch by the town not long after its incorporation in 1999.

The Master Plan shows four villages plus commercial areas, with a total of 4,000 dwellings. Three of those villages are within Edgewood’s municipal boundaries, while one is in Bernalillo County. The development is planned in phases, with one portion, “Village 1,” outside of Edgewood in Bernalillo County—just north of East Mountain High School—which has stricter requirements of developers than Edgewood does.

Villages 2, 3 and 4 are across North 14 from Paa-ko.

The April 12 meeting lasted about an hour, starting with Mayor Audrey Jaramillo bringing up the Attorney General’s letter and recommendation, followed by a motion by Jerry Powers to send the item back to Planning and Zoning as recommended.

A packed house of residents from in and around Edgewood voiced concerns about water, drought and climate change, and the impact of 4,000 homes as proposed by the Master Plan at full build-out.

Edgewood’s new Planning and Zoning Commission held a meeting May 12 as The Independent went to press, but the item was not on the agenda.

Concerns raised by the EBWPC, a regional committee formed by a Memorandum of Understanding between Bernalillo County, Torrance County, and Santa Fe County, center on water availability and the impact to the surrounding area.

EBWPC’s November letter also poses the question of whether Edgewood’s 1999 or 2019 zoning ordinance, especially regarding Master Plan requirements for water planning. “It is unclear to the EBWPC which ordinances are now applicable and at what point various ordinances apply in the approval process,” it adds, asking for clarification on what criteria the town would use “to determine the adequacy of the proposed water supply, wastewater disposal, and whether private wells and septic systems are intended.

Pyskoty had earlier sent a letter to EBWPC asking the committee to “review and comment on major development proposals impacting water resources as appropriate” as described in the MOU as part of its responsibilities. “While respectful of Town of Edgewood jurisdictional authorities over its annexed areas, Bernalillo County is concerned in as much as the Town of Edgewood is the sole arbiter of the use of regional water resources to supply the Master Plan area,” Pyskoty wrote. “Bernalillo County believes that because of its charge to perform regional water planning, the EBWPC is in the best position to advise the Town of Edgewood regarding water resources concerns that should be considered in its decision making.”

Edgewood did send a reply to EBWPC, which is what the May 12 committee meeting convened to address.

In its reply, Edgewood said the town “cannot provide a specific answer as to prospective water providers; as long as water availability is proven, be it by a water utility such as Entranosa, private wells or a combination thereof, this will satisfy the water requirement.”

Edgewood’s reply says the 1999 Zoning Ordinance “governs the Campbell Ranch Master Plan,” and recommends updating the development agreement between the town and Campbell Farming.

Edgewood’s letter emphasizes several times that the town’s requirement is “proof of a water will-serve letter and/or permits through the office of the State Engineer,” adding, “The burden is on Campbell Ranch and their subsequent partners to come up with water sources that will adequately serve and sustain their development.”

The reply concludes, “The Town of Edgewood understands that this is a very important issue of great impact. We appreciate the input and guidance of the Estancia Basin Water Planning Committee as we proceed further with land use matters regarding Campbell Ranch. We understand that this is a complex and ongoing situation, and we aim to be as transparent and egalitarian as possible in all Campbell Ranch proceedings.”

After the September meeting, the whole Planning and Zoning Commission resigned, and were replaced with new appointments by the incoming administration.