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County OKs Santolina Agreement

John Salazar, an attorney for Santolina's developers, speaks to the County Commission as protesters take notes.

Bernalillo County Commissioners voted to approve the Santolina developmentagreement in a contentious meeting Wednesday. The plan could bring about 40,000 new homes to a privately owned development on the West Mesa outside of Albuquerque.

The 3-to-2 vote to approve Santolina came after hours of debate over the language in the agreement. 

Protesters and acequia farmers sat through the hearing with tape over their mouths—a symbolic objection to the commission’s decision not to allow public comment.

Juan Reynosa is with the Southwest Organizing Project. He said opponents like him will continue their efforts to fight the project that they say will threaten water resources and livelihoods of people in Albuquerque.

"We’re thinking about a lot of different strategies, from trying to bring a bigger public presence to this to some potential legal strategies," he said.

Supporters of the plan disagree. They say Santolina will bolster the economy and bring much-needed jobs to the western part of the county.

The next meeting on Santolina will take place in August.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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