Maybe 2021 will be the year some Corrales seniors wishing to downsize, but still live in the village, will begin to realize their dreams. Frank Steiner, with the backing of a Village in the Village committee, appears more hopeful than ever.
In the fall of 2019, Steiner informally presented to Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout his plan to create a complex of five duplexes on the 1.89-acre parcel where his Sunbelt Nursery now sits. The land is at the corner of Corrales Road and Dixon Road, in the commercial district, which would make walking or bike riding to village stores, restaurants and the Bosque Preserve uncomplicated for residents.
The long-standing one-home-per-acre rule that has prevailed in Corrales for decades does not precisely apply to properties in the commercial zone, according to Steiner, who suggested in January 2020 that an addendum simply could be added to the commercial zone ordinance to make this happen. And possibly, the expected revision of Corrales’ Comprehensive Plan to which Mayor Jo Anne Roake has referred, could include a reconsideration of that long-standing one-home-per-acre rule.
After a meeting with Steiner in October 2019, Stout emailed him that “Allowing five duplexes with ten families would be a radical departure from current land use practices in the Village of Corrales. You did, however, state that you had the support of several councillors. My suggestion would be to float your idea and see if anyone would be willing to sponsor the higher density housing in the commercial zone as an additional permissive use, with site development plan approval.”
Leap through multiple pandemic months to early January 2021, and Steiner suggested this: “When the current councillors were running for office they all supported alternative senior housing in their public debates. Bill Woldman has met with our group and is very supportive. We have met with two other councillors who have expressed an interest in the project.
“Woldman encouraged us to meet with Planning and Zoning to investigate a special use permit for our project. P&Z director Stout said that would not be difficult if she were directed to do so by the Village Council. We hope the new councillor to be appointed by our mayor to the vacated District Four seat will be as supportive.”
He emphasized that “The one acre per house rule in the residential neighborhoods is not in jeopardy. This is limited to the commercial zone only.”
The push to alter the one acre rule for the Corrales Road commercial district is not brand new. In the fall of 2018, Village in the Village sought residents’ support for a land use ordinance that would allow townhouses or condo-like facilities on property within 250 feet of Corrales Road between Meadowlark and Wagner Lanes.
“Our population is aging. More than 50 percent of us are over 50 years old,” ViV proponents pointed out. “For many, our only option for living in Corrales is to occupy our present homes. In the future, our large houses, with significant maintenance issues, will pose obstacles to remaining in Corrales.
“Many senior friends and neighbors have already moved out of Corrales because of lack of desirable alternative housing. Today there are few smaller homes or rentals on the market, and none in the area where it is convenient to walk to the bank, post office, pharmacy, library, stores, restaurants and the bosque trails.”
“We at Village in the Village (ViV) propose that the Corrales Village administration and councillors investigate changing the housing density in the commercial zone to be similar to the number of individual units in the development Pueblo los Cerros off of Loma Larga. “Units like these provide neighbors close by, affordable and manageable housing. We would like to see townhomes, condominiums or multiple single homes in a quantity and quality, that supports ViV’s mission of helping seniors remain in their community.”
Thus far, the ordinance remains unchanged. Steiner points out that “We promote ourselves as a village that is all inclusive and supports a diversified population. Our valuable seniors have been active in our community over the many years since our incorporation in 1971 and have helped make it such a wonderful place to live. They love Corrales and their neighbors and do not want to leave.”
“We need a majority of the councillors to vote for approval of this project and direct P&Z to offer the appropriate zoning solution,” he added. “The project is fully funded and shovel ready. We could have ten senior families living in our project by this time next year.”