Green Community or Toxic Landfill?

By
Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Camco Realty

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about Albuquerque's up-and-coming Mesa del Sol community. The developers are publicizing the green nature of the proposed development, as I had outlined a year ago in an initial post about Mesa del Sol, but last week I noticed that a couple of readers of the post had commented that Mesa del Sol was actually located on an old landfill, and near a nuclear waste landfill!

This was a surprising and unwelcome assertion about a development that is one of the current prides of Albuquerque, and a big economic fous right now, as a great deal of new, clean industry has recently announced moves to Albuquerque and Mesa del Sol-- companies like Advent Solar and Schott Solar, who are building new plants at Mesa del Sol. This is great economic news for Albuquerque, but is there a downside to Mesa del Sol?

Mesa del Sol with landfill overlaysIn my last post, http://activerain.com/blogsview/641852/Green-Community-Location-Landfill , I analyzed the maps of Mesa del Sol, the City of Albuquerque's landfills, and the Sandia Laboratories Mixed Waste landfill, and created an overlay showing all on one map.

 

It sure looked like those critical commentators were correct; part of the Mesa del Sol area lies right over an old City of Albuquerque dump, and the Mixed Waste Landfill, with its radioactive waste, lies just off the eastern edge of Mesa del Sol.

Take a look:

To recap, here's the overlay map at right. The blue area is Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill. The greenish-yellow blobs show City of Albuquerque landfills.

 

But Mesa del Sol is huge, so a major question would be: "What exactly is being planned for the areas on or near thes locations?"

To try to answer that question in my own mind, I got the detailed Mesa del Sol Master Plan map from www.MesadelsolNM.com , and resized the maps of the City of Albuquerque landfill and the Mixed Wast Landfill appropriately, and created another overlay.

The Master Plan Map shows details of areas that are planned for residential development, for retail shops, for business and industry, for parks and open space, etc. Below is that map, with the landfill areas overlaid:

Mesa del Sol Master Plan Map with landfills overlaid

Again, the green "blobs" show the locations of the City of Albuquerque landfill areas, and the bright blue is the Mixed Waste Landfill. On the master plan, pale yellow areas are designated residential, greenish-yellow areas are for parks and open space, pale blue is office and industrial, and reddish areas are for retail. 

(One big caveat here-- this map is something I generated myself, by obtaining landfill areas off maps for the City of Albuquerque landfills and the Sandia Labs Mixed Waste Landfill, resizing them to match the Mesa Del Sol Master Plan map available online, and spatially overlaying them. This is necessarily an inexact method! However, I searched for some time trying to find anything from the City of Albuquerque, or from Mesa del Sol, or from Sandia Labs or Kirtland Air Force Base that would actually show the relative locations of these facilities, but to no avail!)

It certainly appears as though the developers of Mesa Del Sol have tried to keep most, if not all, of the City of Albuquerque landfill area reserved for "parks and open space," rather than planning to build homes or businesses directly over the landfill. It also appears that they have left a large strip along the entire eastern edge of Mesa del Sol, the side in closest proximity to the Mixed Waste Landfill, also as dedicated open space.

This is a good thing!

But I still have a number of concerns:

  1. There do appear to be some residential lots located directly on top of portions of the old City of Albuquerque landfill. Is this do to the necessarily poor level of accuracy inherent in my method here, or is it actuall the case? If so, is Mesa del Sol going to disclose this to potential purchasers of these lots?
  2. Is it really safe to have any residential areas this close to the landfills, even if they are not right on top of them? Has the city, or have the developers, done any testing in this regard? If not, why not? If so, how can the public access this information so that they can make informed choices? 
  3. Is the distance between the radioactive waste stored at the Mixed Waste Landfill really sufficient for safety for potential residents, and workers at Mesa del Sol? Again, has adequate testing been done? With what results? How can the consumer access this information?
  4. Is Mesa del Sol, or is the City of Albuquerque, going to disclose to prospective residents of Mesa del Sol that some of these parks and open spaces are on, or near, potentially hazardous landfills?

My major question is why no easily accessible information is available on the Internet from the City of Albuquerque dealing with these issues. Why are there no articles about the landfills that are being incorporated into Mesa del Sol? Why does the city not have maps available, much more exact maps, drawn by surveyors, perhaps, showing exactly what the boundaries of the landfills are with regard to the various areas of the Mesa del Sol master plan?

My sincere thanks to Patricia Tapia and Joe Edwards, whose comments on my earlier blog first alerted me to this issue! But why, Mayor Chavez, did I have to find out about this issue from coments on my blog??? Why has the city of Albuquerque not made this kind of information available to the public.

I realize that the city is proud of Mesa del Sol, and interested in helping it attract new businesses, new jobs, and new economic opportunities to the Albuquerque area. But don't those potential new residents and workers also have a right to know about potential hazards in the form of toxic waste dumps in the immediate vicinity?

Mr. Mayor, perhaps it would be good to keep in mind one of our Realtor mantras: "Disclose, disclose, disclose!"

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Rainmaker
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Kathie Burby
Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate - Sonora, CA
REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide

It is not unusual for abandoned landfills to be turned into parks and open space. Still you are correct in wanting answers. Have you checked with the Planning Dept. and asked for a copy of the EIR (environmental impact report)? Has the proposed project even gotten that far? Public comment period is required by federal law on all EIR's. Projects involving that type of land are rarely forthcoming with info. You have to know what to ask to get answers - so read the EIR and go from there. Oh yeah, accurate maps should be included in the EIR. But you did a good job showing the relationship of the land. Remember Love Canal---Don't let them build homes that will make homeowners sick someday!

Aug 16, 2008 11:12 AM #1
Rainmaker
81,326
Laura Warden Nordin
Century 21 Camco Realty - Albuquerque, NM
30-year Top Producer in Greater ABQ Real Estate

Wow, Kathie! You are really knowledgeable in this area. I didn't know anything about EIR reports, and, as I mentioned, was asatonished to first hear about these landfills from those recent comments on my last year's post. I'll have to check into this further.

Aug 17, 2008 05:21 AM #2
Rainmaker
1,494,815
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

That's kind of creepy.  Good for you for looking into it.  Now you will have to disclose it.

Aug 19, 2008 12:31 PM #3
Rainmaker
81,326
Laura Warden Nordin
Century 21 Camco Realty - Albuquerque, NM
30-year Top Producer in Greater ABQ Real Estate

Yes, disclosure is always an issue. I did just receive a call from someone at Mesa del Sol, though, saying that they had thoroughly researched it, and promising to send me a bunch of info by email. I'm waiting for the email.

Aug 22, 2008 08:33 AM #4
Rainer
56,130
-- Casey Brischle
Columbia Bank - Spokane, WA
Spokane Home Loan Mortgage Professional

That is wierd, but understandable.   There is only so much land out there.  I just hope there is no negative side affects.

Aug 22, 2008 09:28 AM #5
Ambassador
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Laura~

Check out the Love Canalinformation 2008...you will be amazed. THX for entering the ECO-All-Stars August Challenge... great post...

Sep 02, 2008 12:47 PM #6
Ambassador
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Laura~

 

Check out the Love Canal news...just for a "thrill"...THX for your entries in the ECO-All-Stars August Challenge. Judging starts now...good luck!

Sep 02, 2008 12:49 PM #7
Rainmaker
81,326
Laura Warden Nordin
Century 21 Camco Realty - Albuquerque, NM
30-year Top Producer in Greater ABQ Real Estate

What's new with Love Canal? I was in Niagara Falls at that time...

Sep 03, 2008 10:47 AM #8
Anonymous
FunkyMonkey
The landfills are further north than your map indicates. http://gis.cabq.gov/website/general/viewer.htm?ActiveLayer=52&Layers=00000000000000000000000000000011110000000100000001001100000000000000000001
May 04, 2014 05:48 AM #9
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Laura Warden Nordin

30-year Top Producer in Greater ABQ Real Estate
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