By Steve Ramirez
Reposted from the Las Cruces Sun-News from 7/24/2014
LAS CRUCES >> Final approval has been received to develop 30.745 acres of land once a part of the Las Cruces Country Club.
The six-member Las Cruces Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-0 Tuesday to allow Las Cruces developer Bob Pofahl to proceed with construction of a hospital, doctors offices, a rehabilitation facility, a new entrance into the proposed development, conversion of a portion of West Camino del Rex into a cul-de-sac, and build parks. Pofahl has said he hopes to break ground on the proposed development in January.
“Land use is going to happen,” said commissioner Kirk Clifton. “It’s a subdivision and it’s gone through the process (of rezoning to high intensity commercial). The city has asked for a Rolls Royce of improvements and Mr. Pofahl has delivered.”
Commissioner Ruben Alvarado said the property, which has been vacant for more than 1 1/2 years, badly needs to be developed.
“I frequently drive by the country club and it’s in a deplorable state,” Alvarado said. “Initially, I had hoped the city could purchase it and develop it into a park. But since the city didn’t have any money to purchase it, we have to go with development.”
In addition to Alvarado and Clifton, commissioners William Stowe and Godfrey Crane voted for final plat approval. Commissioner Joanne Ferrary abstained and commissioner Charles Beard did not attend Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall.
The approval also means the sale of the country club property can be finalized. It will be sold for $7.1 million, and those proceeds will be used by the Las Cruces Country Club board of directors to purchase Sonoma Ranch Golf Course.
“It starts things for us,” said Robert Caldwell, president of the country club’s board of directors, of the commission’s approval. “Everything was contingent on this. We do have a process in place with Sonoma Ranch to have a full-service country club. We’re hoping to close on that transaction by mid-October to late October.”
Pofahl said the final sale of the country club property could happen within the next 45 days.
Pofahl said the remaining 79.531 acres of the former country club will be developed in two additional phases at later dates.
“Each parcel will have to come back to the city for individual construction permits,” Pofahl said.
He added that 19 houses near the country club, which have been operating on septic tank systems, will be connected to the city’s wastewater system with first-phase development of the 30.745 acres.
A new entrance to the property, to be called Camino Real, will be built just west of country club’s longtime entrance off North Main Street, at Camino del Rex. That part of Camino del Rex will be converted into a cul-de-sac.
“We’re planning for $939,000, almost $1 million, for off-site necessary improvements,” Pofahl said. He added an additional 7 1/2 acres will be added to Apodaca Park, which is adjacent to the proposed development, as well as “substantial improvements” to the park.
Numerous residents who live in the country club neighborhood spoke for and against the final plat.
“We’re going to have to live with this,” said Connie Potter, who spoke against the final plat. “It (the final plat) definitely has work that needs to be done.”
John Stevens, whose home is adjacent to the property said development will negatively affect him.
“My mountain view is going to change with the two-story office buildings that are going to go there. We don’t appreciate that,” Stevens said. He added traffic created from the development of a hospital, rehabilitation facility and doctors offices will be “horrendous.”
But Claudia Jensen said she welcomes the commission’s final plat approval.
“It will be a good thing for the entire community,” Jensen said.
Nell Rose, who also lives in the country club neighborhood, added, “With the condition of (the former country club) right now, …it needs to be developed for the betterment of the community.”