By Steve Ramirez email@example.com @SteveRamirez6 on Twitter
Originally posted in the Las Cruces Sun-News: 08/19/2013 08:29:58 PM MDT
LAS CRUCES >> The emphasis of the Las Cruces City Council’s decision Monday to approve the rezoning of 30.75 acres at the Las Cruces Country Club was more about “what” than “who.”
Focusing on the merits of a project to build a 42-bed private hospital and associated rehabilitation facilities, the council voted 6-1 to rezone the country club property from R-1a, single-family residential, to C-3c, commercial high intensity, and R-4c, multi-family housing. Both zoning classifications carry conditions.
“The bottom line is, when you get right down to it, it’s a well thought-out project,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. “It’s going to be a huge injection into that neighborhood.”
The sale of the property, which was contingent on the council’s approval to rezone the property, is also anticipated to be huge.
The 110-acre country club will now likely be sold for millions of dollars that will provide the money for remaining country club members to make a serious effort toward buying a new facility.
But numerous residents who live near the former country club, which closed in late 2011, say they could also benefit.
In several hours of public comments heard by the council, during Monday’s meeting at City Hall, many of them endorsed the rezoning because they believe redevelopment of the country club could increase property values.
“I believe this is a good thing and will have a positive impact to my property value,” said Harry Hansen, who lives near the former country club. “This is an excellent plan.”
“We need to do something right with that property,” said Las Crucen Rich Ferrary, a country club member. “What we saw today was the right thing.”
Rick Jensen, who also lives near the country club and works in the medical profession, said he and Las Cruces will benefit from what Las Cruces developer Bob Pofahl has proposed for what — until now — has been the city’s largest green space.
“This medical campus includes a unique approach,” Jensen said. “Locally, Park Ridge will have a positive economic impact on Las Cruces. Personally, it’ll revitalize my neighborhood.
“We (Las Cruces) should plan for growth, not catch up with it.”
Las Cruces architect Steve Newby is also impressed with what could become of the property.
“This is the best example of smart growth that this city has ever seen,” said Newby, of Pofahl’s concept of an urban community that will include a medical campus, multi-family housing, walking trails, retail shops, a charter school and the removal septic systems that 18 townhouses are currently operating with.
The council’s vote mirrored public sentiments about the project. Although there was strong support for the project, there were some who expressed their concerns about it.
“The hospital part of the project doesn’t provide the health, safety and welfare of the area that it claims,” said Dr. Edward Sweetser, a Las Cruces orthopaedist. “Frankly, we don’t need a new hospital.”
Las Crucen Tamie Smith was also skeptical about the plans to redevelop the property.
“I think Pofahl’s development is quite a nice development. However, I also feel it is quite the wrong place for it,” Smith said.
Councilor Miguel Silva, the only council member to vote against the rezoning, echoed similar feelings.
“The traffic really does concern me,” said Silva, of the anticipated increase in traffic that he believes development could create. “We’ve got to look beyond walking paths, bike paths that will be there. There’s going to be a local impact.
“There’s also no evidence this is going to bring something to our community. It’s not providing any additional health benefit. …I agree with some public sentiments that this is going to be a shift of service. …I don’t feel comfortable changing something that could be something.”
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452