By  Lisa Dunlap 

Original Article 

Preliminary and final plats for another 20 houses in the La Bella Vita subdivision has been approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, but the final plat still requires a vote of the Roswell City Council. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Expanded subdivision, new apartment project discussed by Planning and Zoning group

A local homebuilder and a New Mexico multifamily project owner are planning new or expanded housing projects in Roswell.

But the multifamily project’s plan for approval of its use of commercial property has been tabled for the time being until the owner, Steve Crozier of Tierra Realty Trust LLC, submits more information.

The two concepts were considered Tuesday night by the city of Roswell Planning and Zoning Commission.

Rick Rhoads, owner of the contracting firm Rhoads Co. and a partner of the subdivision developer Eagle Creek Villas LLC, submitted preliminary and final plats to build another 20 single-family homes as part of the existing La Bella Vita subdivision on North Union Street.

Rhoads builds the homes in the subdivision, which is in the northwest section of the city, a few blocks north of Cielo Grande Recreation Area and directly across Union Avenue from the New Mexico Military Institute golf course.

The new homes would go directly to the south of the existing homes on Karabella Way. City Engineer Louis Najar explained that the expansion had been planned for some time and noted the entryway for the new road in the subdivision, Bella Vita Drive, was created when the city upgraded Union Avenue.

“It has been a long time coming,” said local surveyor Todd Wagener, the agent for Eagle Creek. “We have finally gotten a deed for some lots in Roswell, so it is about time that we got something going.”

The development also has a commercial section near the corner of North Union Avenue and West 19th Street called Bella Vita Plaza. A dental office is on one of those lots.

According to the La Bella Vita website, the previous homes in the subdivisions on Karabella Way are on lots ranging from 5,610 square feet to 8,000 square feet and sell in the upper $200,000s.

No member of the public spoke against the project, and Najar and Bill Morris, Community Development director, said the project met all required standards, ordinances and codes and was “fully supported” by city staff.

“It is a needed type of product,” added Morris.

The housing shortage in Roswell was the topic of a recent public summit, where city and business leaders explained that a lack of homes on the market and the lack of affordable workforce housing is a major challenge for the city, especially as future population growth is anticipated.

The commission voted to approve the plats unanimously, 5-0, with Jesse McDaniel absent and Jana Lessard recusing herself due to a business association with the project.

Morris indicated the final plat probably will be voted on by the Roswell City Council at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The other project involves two properties in the southeast part of the city.

Tierra Realty Trust, which owns the Wilshire Garden senior apartment complex in Roswell as well as other New Mexico apartment projects, plans to create a new apartment community on two parcels near South Main and East Alameda streets.

The parcel fronting South Main already has a building on it, while the one directly to the east of it is vacant. But both are zoned Commercial 2, so the property owner and his representative, Melissa Babcock, asked the city for special use permits for both parcels to allow an apartment project in the area.

But no renderings or plans had been submitted with the project, and Babcock explained to commission members that the project was too early in its planning stages to answer such questions as where parking would be located.

That caused Chair Riley Armstrong and other members to suggest the matter be tabled until January, when it could be tabled again if more time were needed. If the commission voted against the special use permits because no plans were available, it would be six months before the project could be brought before the commission again, Najar explained.

Armstrong said that he couldn’t vote to support permits without seeing some idea of what was planned.

“We certainly are not going to vote on a special use for a project of this nature when we don’t even know — and, quite frankly, you don’t even know — where parking is going to be,” he said.

Commission member Kent Taylor said that renderings or basic drawings should be able to be developed fairly quickly.

Babcock explained that she thought, based on prior apartment projects done by the owner, that the project might have 60 to 90 units. The existing building, she said, might be refurbished and used as part of the project rather than demolished and built over.

After the meeting, she said she did expect that renderings and additional information would be presented in January. She added that the owner had wanted to begin construction in fall 2020.

Bruce Ellis of Roswell Lumber Co., the owner of the property at 200 S. Main now leased by Foxworth Galbraith, did express his concerns about the idea of apartments in a commercial district. Ellis also explained that he once served on the commission for about 11 years.

“My biggest concern is the zoning. You know, the master plan is in place. It has been there for a number of years. It is the bible that you use and the staff uses,” he said. “The goal, obviously, is to make sure that we have a better designed and functioning city. I am opposed to it just strictly on the zoning part of it. There is no greater request that comes before your commission than a special use request, so I am glad you took it seriously and tabled it and waited for proper information.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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