The proposal considered at the June 16 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting is the closest thing yet to a two-story motel or extended stay facility in Corrales. The property at 5065 Corrales Road is already zoned for commercial use and now being used as a “wellness retreat.” The plan would accommodate people wanting a “combination of medical, behavioral, emotional and therapeutic practical applications.” In the application for site development plan approval, owner Joan Lewis wants to add to the four medical offices already operating there. As the site development plan states, “four existing bedrooms with baths that the applicant would like to use as four commercial short-term rentals, which is permissive use in the C-zone as per Section 18-37(3)aa Short-Term Rental lodging establishments with no more than six guest rooms.”

The site plan calls for 20 parking spaces plus three spaces for the disabled. Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout recommended approval of the site plan because it complies with Village regulations. “Recommendation: application is compliant with Village Code Section 18-45(b). Approve with applicant’s stated uses very clearly outlined by her during the meeting. Up to four short-term rental units upstairs, with a total occupancy not to exceed eight persons.” The P&Z commission’s decision on the site plan could not be included in this issue.

Lewis’ submission to the P&Z commission included the following description of what she intends to do if the plan is approved. “The intended use of the property at the above address is to establish a comfortable community-oriented wellness retreat that takes advantage of the ambience of the village of Corrales and provides educational and/or participating programs for clients interested in a combination of medical, behavioral, emotional and therapeutic, practical applications and didactic events for accessing wellness.”

According to the application, “the owner currently plans to reside in the western portion of the first floor. At some point, the residential space may be utilized for commercial use for two additional office spaces with private baths that share kitchen and living room spaces.… Commercial use is projected for the second floor for a short-term rental of four rooms with private baths that share a kitchen and living space. The separate (400 square foot) building adjacent to the residential western portion of the first floor is commercial for small meetings commensurate with the intent of the property use as noted above.

“To this end, we are offering:
1. Short term rental. four bedrooms, each with a private bath, on the upper level of the back of the existing structure, two office suites below.
2. Laundry room, enclosed and separate from structure… to handle linens.
3. Front and back decks for small seminars, breakouts or relaxation.
4. Parking lot designed to accommodate 20 spaces.
5. A gazebo, small tables and chairs are planned for comfort and shade for clients.”

Two other applications for short-term rentals elsewhere in Corrales were considered at the June 16 P&Z meeting. Carol Akright sought permission to run a short-term rental business in her home at 108 Camino de la Tierra. That would be for one bedroom in the three bedroom house to accommodate two adults and one child under 12. The other, sought by Jan Fiala at 416 Camino Arco Iris, would rent out two bedrooms in a four-bedroom home, with a maximum of four adults. Short-term rental of Corrales homes and Airbnb arrangements began to come under closer scrutiny after the owner of a former church building at 5220 Corrales Road allowed it to be used as an event center. At its August 21, 2019 session, the Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission grilled Nick Mystrom about his plans to use the church-turned-residence as a rental through Airbnb. He had come before P&Z seeking approval for a home occupation permit, while admitting he had been renting it out for more than a year, several times for wedding events. Several residents in the neighborhood attended the August 21, 2019 commission meeting to complain that activities, especially parties, at 5220 Corrales Road were disruptive and unpleasant. But Mystrom died later that year, and the property was sold.

The incidents described by neighbors were just the latest complaints arising from rentals in residential areas; often problems have arisen when rowdy guests rent Corrales homes for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. At the November 12, 2019 Village Council meeting, councillors agreed to post and publish an ordinance to establish better control over short-term rentals, and collect lodgers’ tax and gross receipts tax on such rentals. “It is estimated that we have about 100 short-term rentals operating in the village,” P&Z Administrator Stout said. “Right now, we have no way to regulate them. This new ordinance will give us the tools to do that.” Mystrom had described himself as a real estate investor.

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