Councilor Dan Lewis is pleased to present the adopted Sector Development Plan (SDP) for Volcano Heights in the Volcano Mesa area. Volcano Heights consists of approximately 570 acres, located along the volcanic Escarpment of the City's Northwest Mesa.
Mikaela Renz-Whitmore, 505-924-3932, Long Range Planning
Tony Duran, 505-768-3189, City Council Services
The Volcano Heights Sector Development Plan (SDP) envisions a mixed-use, walkable environment for existing and future residents and visitors as part of a larger strategy to reduce traffic congestion on the West Side and on the limited river crossings now and in the future.
Update as of 3/7/14
On February 6, 2014, the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) voted to recommend approval of text amendments submitted by the Planning Department for the Volcano Heights SDP.
The amendments will next be heard by City Councilors on the Land Use, Planning, and Zoning (LUPZ) Committee, likely toward the end of April. You are invited and encouraged to participate in the review process. A draft incorporating all recommended changes to date, including those added by the EPC, can be downloaded below.
As originally intended, the Planning Department returned to all three sector development plans in Volcano Mesa after Volcano Heights was adopted in August 2013 to update the transportation network to be consistent among the three plans. During this review, other minor items were also identified to be clarified and adjusted to better meet plan goals.
The zoning map will not be affected, nor will goals and policies change. The proposed changes include the following items:
- Adding cross sections from Volcano Cliffs SDP and Special Assessment District 228 and renumbering cross sections accordingly to include the full transportation network within Volcano Mesa.
- Fixing the applicability of Plan sections for new or modified signs in Table 3.1.
- Adjusting the definition of Building Frontage to eliminate reference to lot width and change the calculation to be a ratio of the portion of the façade width within the Build-to Zone to the entire façade width.
- Adding residential and mixed-use developments to the restriction on grading permits only being issued concurrently with building permits to minimize opportunities for fugitive dust, a significant problem on the West Side and particularly near the Petroglyph National Monument.
- Reorganizing construction mitigation regulations in the Escarpment Transition zone to clarify requirements and help with enforcement.
- Moving a regulation intended for all structures out of the section on residential garages to the appropriate section.
- Allowing primary streets to count toward the required ‘A’ vs. ‘B’ Streets for each block.
Draft for Review
Text amendments are available as a redline draft below. Hard copies are available at the City of Albuquerque Planning Department, 600 2nd Street NW, 3rd Floor from December 30 onward. Please call the Project Manager, Mikaela Renz-Whitmore, at 505-924-3932 if you need help accessing a copy of the Plan.
Opportunities for Review and Comment
The LUPZ is expected to hear proposed text amendments in late April. The date and time will be posted hear as soon as it is scheduled. You may present comments verbally at the hearings and/or send written comments for inclusion in the file. Staff expects LUPZ to hold one hearing and then pass the amendments on to the full City Council for final action.
Staff is available to meet with you to answer questions, but all comments should be submitted in writing to be included in the file for Council review.
Mail: Mikaela Renz-Whitmore, P.O. Box 1293, Albuquerque, NM 87103
Fax: 505-924-3339, Attention: Mikaela Renz-Whitmore
Staff hosted a “Next Steps” meeting in January 2014. A summary of the discussion is available below.
You can find your property and its zoning designation on the following maps. Please see the Plan for uses, regulations, standards, and policies pertaining to development.
For all proposed projects, the first step in the development process is to schedule a Pre-application Review Team (PRT) discussion, held weekly for no fee on Tuesday afternoons. Sign up by noon Friday by calling 505-924-3860.
The adopted version of the Volcano Heights SDP can be downloaded via the links below. Separate files have been created in an attempt to best meet users’ needs.
- Volcano Heights SDP + Appendix (Warning: Large file. Includes hyperlinks and bookmarks for easy cross referencing if used primarily in digital format.)
- Volcano Heights SDP (Warning: Large file. Includes all sections in the Plan, but not the Appendix. Graphics are the best quality.)
- Volcano Heights SDP – Reduced (Warning: Smallest file to have the complete plan, but graphics may have reduced quality.)
- First Pages + Chapter I: Introduction
- Chapter II: Regulations
- Section 2.0 Plan Authority
- Section 3.0 Administration
- Section 4.0 Zoning
- Section 5.0 Site Development & Building Design Standards Specific to Zones
- Section 6.0 Site Development Standards General to All Zones
- Section 7.0 Building Design Standards General to All Zones
- Section 8.0 Sign Standards
- Section 9.0 Open Space, Landscaping, & Site Lighting Design Standards
- Chapter III: Street & Streetscape Standards
- Chapter IV: Goals, Policies, & Implementation
- Volcano Heights SDP Appendix (Warning: Only includes Appendix, not the Plan.)
DRAINAGE PLAN STATUS: The Albuquerque Metropolitan Area Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA) held a public meeting December 17, 2013 to review its progress on the Drainage Management Plan for Volcano Heights, within the Upper Piedras Marcadas Watershed. Discussions included water quality and drainage management issues, alternatives for needed infrastructure, and alternatives for reimbursement of infrastructure construction. Wilson & Co is the engineering consultant for the Drainage Plan for Volcano Heights.
ACCESS MODIFICATION: The Transportation Coordinating Committee (TCC) approved the City’s request for new intersections on the limited-access Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard within Volcano Mesa to support the Volcano Heights and Volcano Cliffs Sector Development Plans.
For information about the Access Modification Process, please click on the link.
WATER/WASTEWATER: The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) is reviewing a 2012 draft Northwest Service Area Integrated Infrastructure Plan for an area that includes Volcano Heights, which identifies the size of water transmission trunk lines, storage capacity, water treatment, and fire storage necessary to support development. The Planning Department requested a Serviceability Statement for Volcano Heights, available at the link below. For more information, or to review the draft water infrastructure plan, please contact Allan Porter, 505-924-3989, or Jeremy Hoover, 505-924-3988.
- ABCWUA Serviceability Statement for Volcano Heights – August 5, 2013
Public Involvement & Adoption Process
The Volcano Heights SDP (Bill Number R-13-132) was adopted with unanimous support from the City Council on August 5, 2013 and signed by the Mayor on August 28, 2013. To watch the Council video, click this link.
Your input and support of this Plan throughout the adoption process was vital to ensuring that this area develops in a way that respects the existing development that surrounds it, the rock outcroppings throughout the Plan area, and the Petroglyph National Monument to the east, while providing an opportunity for area jobs, retail, and services that can help traffic congestion on river crossings over time.
The following summary documents are available to provide an overview of significant issues that arose during the process, and more information about the public process is available at the link below.
As part of a larger strategy to address the imbalance of jobs and housing on the City’s East and West Sides, the Volcano Heights Sector Development Plan (SDP) provides opportunities for employment, regional retail, and higher-density housing options surrounding two of the most vital regional arterials on the West Side.
The Plan is intended to guide long-term development and stimulate job growth on the West Side by offering alternative zoning to the existing straight residential zoning. The Plan includes incentives to attract employment and urban development and regulations to provide predictability of high-quality development across property lines, along corridors, and over time. A streamlined approval process for development projects is proposed to provide predictability and flexibility to meet market needs quickly. Strong design regulations are needed to ensure high-quality development for potential employers, existing and future residents, and surrounding property owners. As property owners are well aware, infrastructure is the key to success as well as the biggest challenge.
The Plan is intended to:
- Foster a predictable, high-quality, urban, walkable environment that can support multiple modes of transportation, including transit, over time.
- Articulate, promote, and safeguard community and stakeholder desires for the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and type of streets and blocks.
- Enable an enforceable, streamlined development process.
- Result in feasible development in the current and predicted future markets.
- Be enforceable and implementable.
- Provide appropriate and effective transitions, buffers, and other measures to protect existing neighborhoods and sensitive lands from the more negative impacts of urban development.
The planning themes expressed in the Plan include:
- Providing flexibility to respond to market conditions through mixed uses allowed in all proposed zones;
- Providing predictability for property owners, developers, and nearby residents through detailed design standards to help ensure quality development across property lines, along corridors, and over time;
- Creating opportunities for employment and local and regional retail and services on the City’s West Side as part of a strategy to reduce traffic congestion on river crossings over time;
- Coordinating land use and transportation closely in order to create an urban built environment that supports existing and future residents and new businesses and works well for all modes of transportation, including autos, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit; and
- Balancing the density and intensity of land uses needed for a walkable, urban employment center with responsible protections for the unique landscape and sensitive lands next to the Petroglyph National Monument east of the Plan area as well as existing single-family neighborhoods north and south of the Plan area.
Volcano Heights is one of three sector development plans within the area referred to as Volcano Mesa. Each plan contains goals, policies, and regulations that address land use, transportation, and environment/open space.
- The Volcano Heights Sector Development Plan surrounds the intersection of Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard, between Universe Boulevard on the west and the Petroglyph National Monument on the east.
- The Volcano Trails Sector Development Plan (adopted in August 2011) is west of Volcano Heights.
- The Volcano Cliffs Sector Development Plan (adopted in May 2011) is south of Volcano Heights and Volcano Trails, bordered by the Petroglyph National Monument to the east and Major Public Open Space owned by the City of Albuquerque to the west.
- Volcano Mesa Map - THREE PLAN AREAS [1475KB]
Volcano Heights is approximately 570 acres surrounding the intersection of Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard, bounded on the east by the Petroglyph National Monument. The existing pattern of predominantly housing on the West Side served by few arterial roads contributes to traffic congestion in peak commuting hours, particularly on the region’s limited river crossings, which is expected to result in up to 90-minute commutes to employment centers east of the river by 2035. In order to help provide more balance of jobs and housing on the West Side, the Plan provides opportunities for employment, regional retail, and higher-density housing options surrounding Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard. The Plan also proposes a mandatory street grid that would help disperse regional traffic and serve local development, including a transit boulevard that could accommodate high-capacity transit in the future. While this Plan is not a solution in itself, this planning effort represents a new level of commitment to coordinating land-use with local and regional transportation for all modes of travel, including pedestrian, bicycle, and transit.
In addition to traffic congestion, the Plan also attempts to address the challenge of coordinating future development despite a checkerboard ownership pattern. As the City believes this area may develop in pieces over the next 25 years, the Plan contains details at the level of a master development plan. To ensure predictability across property lines, along corridors, and over time, the Plan calls for mandatory streets that must be provided to ensure access for all properties; provides options for non-mandatory roads to serve local development; and requires detailed standards for cross sections, building placement, and architectural design.
Finally, the Plan attempts to balance the kind of density needed to support transit, walking, and cycling as well as a major employment and retail center with protections for rock outcroppings and sensitive lands needed to honor and respect the unique landscape and cultural history of this area. In addition to requirements for open space, the Plan includes an innovative, optional bonus height system that allows additional building height in certain zones in exchange for benefits to both the natural and built environments.