Resolving Land Use Disputes Decisions about community land use
Collaborative Design of the Santa Fe Summit Development
The Santa Fe Summit Project spurred residents to take action. Hyde Park Road, a National Scenic Byway, connects downtown Santa Fe with a world-class ski basin at the top of the Santa Fe National Forest. During the spring of 1991, residents of the Hyde Park Estates neighborhood noticed the construction of a massive water tank and large-scale water supply lines. Following their concern about the implications of this infrastructure for new development, residents and members from other interested parties formed the Hyde Park Planning Group. This process resulted in an improved development for the Summit Project, a comprehensive neighborhood plan to shape future development and benefits for the existing neighborhood residents.
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Objective: The community wanted to have input on how land in their neighborhood got developed in one specific situation and in the case of future development.
Duration: 2 years (1991-1993)
Parties: Hyde Park Estates families, Summit Properties
In 1991, Summit Properties began to build infrastructure to support new residential development, the Santa Fe Summit Project. Residents of Hyde Parks Estates, a private community outside of downtown Santa Fe, were surprised by new water supply lines, were anxious about what such development could mean for their community, and acted to both stall the process and get involved.
Hyde Park Road lies seven miles northeast of downtown Santa Fe, traversing parts of the Santa Fe National Forest and Hyde Memorial Park. One private section of this National Scenic Byway is Hyde Park Estates, a private community of about 60 families. During the spring of 1991, residents of Hyde Park Estates noticed the construction of a massive water tank and the installation of large-scale water supply lines just south of their subdivision. Concern grew among local residents, as it became clear that such infrastructure foretold of the importation of city water, likely indicating the construction of a large number of homes.
Community leaders quickly organized a meeting for the residents of Hyde Park Estates. During this meeting, it was decided that the most prudent course of action would be to initiate delaying tactics against what they had discovered was called the Santa Fe Summit Project until they were able to obtain more information. They subsequently filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s authority to extend its infrastructure into the county. Although extension of the city’s water supply was upheld in court, the resulting legal proceedings delayed the work being done by the developer (Summit Properties), and caused it to lose thousands of dollars. Realizing that repeated use of such tactics could make completion of the project a financial impossibility, the owners of Summit Properties became responsive to the initiation of a collaborative planning process.
To promote resolution of the controversy surrounding Summit Properties’ project, representatives of Hyde Park Estates, a business called 10,000 Waves, and a local condominium association, petitioned the Extraterritorial Zoning Authority (EZA) to create the Hyde Park Planning Group, which would also include representatives of Summit Properties and any other interested landowners along Hyde Park Road. In addition to finding a solution for the current problem, this group was charged with drafting a comprehensive planning document for the remaining developable land between the Santa Fe City line and the Santa Fe National Forest.
Meanwhile, Hyde Park Estates decided to employ their own planning consultant, Professor Ric Richardson, Chair of the Community and Regional Planning Program in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico, and a member of the Harvard Negotiation Project. Although working directly for the residents of Hyde Park Estates, Professor Richardson began playing a role in the work being done by the Hyde Park Planning Group. At his suggestion, the Planning Group formed five task forces to gather information on various issues. Using this information, the Planning Group established a set of issues on which future negotiations would be based.
In response to Summit Properties’ initial plan, representatives of the Planning Group began working with the developer’s representatives to design an alternative proposal. However, towards the end of 1992, negotiations between the two parties broke down due to the filing of development plans by Summit Properties that were entirely different from the plans previously agreed upon.
During his time as a consultant for Hyde Park Estates, Professor Richardson had developed a strong relationship with Summit Properties’ representatives to the Hyde Park Planning Group. Utilizing this relationship as a foundation for trust, plus the long-term commitment of many local residents. Professor Richardson helped facilitate the re-establishment of negotiations among the stakeholders. The participants worked hard to improve inter-party communication and to design a final agreement that would take both sides’ interests into account.
At the Planning Group meeting held during late March 1993, a formal agreement articulating the details of the settlement was drawn up and signed by all of the stakeholders.
Overall, those involved in the negotiation remain pleased with its results. Even the owners of Summit Properties acknowledge that the process compelled them to design a better development. Most importantly, the planning process resulted in the formulation of a comprehensive neighborhood plan, the first such plan ever adopted by the Santa Fe County Commission.
(1) Mediator Expertise: The Santa Fe Summit dispute is unique in that the mediator’s initial contact with the project was as negotiator for one of the stakeholders. However, his ability to satisfy other participants’ questions regarding his expertise and commitment to a fair process enabled him to fulfill the role of a neutral third party once the negotiation had reached an impasse. It was through focusing the conversation on underlying interests (i.e. traffic, the view shed, noise, etc.), rather than broader issues such as “density”, the consideration of other mutually acceptable solutions occurred.
(2) Stakeholder Participation: It was the efforts of local residents that truly drove the process. As a result of their investment of significant amounts of time and money, Summit Properties was forced to take the residents’ concerns seriously. At the same time, local residents and businesses realized that they needed to come to some sort of compromise with Summit Properties - they could not just say no. Thus, a situation was created in which all of the parties were willing to negotiate in good faith and make efforts to accommodate other stakeholders’ interests.
(3) Governmental Support: One representative of Hyde Park Estates stated that, “identifying interests early on was a great thing to do. We also benefited from a local government that wanted the input of community members.” By having the support of the local government, parties were empowered to give input on the future of an area that was important to them.
For more information, contact Ric Richardson, University of New Mexico, School of Architecture and Planning, (505) 277-6460, email@example.com.