EUNICE — The Eunice City Council forged ahead last week with a major housing project, but not without conflict.
With a unanimous vote to re-plat a subdivision for more than 40 residential lots, the council declared completion of phase one of the planned Oaks at Coyote Crossing gated community.
City officials had placed the project on hold in April due to a gross receipts tax dispute with the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Dept., which involved substantially depleted funds for that month. No further reductions in tax revenue have occurred.
The housing development is in a city-owned area south and west of the Eunice police station and senior center, between 23rd and 24th streets and south of Avenue O (aka NM 176). The area is historically called the Hospital Addition.
“This re-plat … will take lots 1A, 1B, 3, 4B and turn them into 43 residential lots with a park space and a commercial development , ” Eunice City Manager Jordan Yutzy said in introductory remarks to the council. “It also moves the current roads and changes the names of the streets in the subdivision to match the (theme) of the development.”
The city manager told the council one lot will be designated as a park area, and the site includes a one-acre commercial tract.
“It is all set good to go. All street names are names of oak trees that are grown in our part of New Mexico,” Yutzy continued. “Planning and Zoning approved this unanimously. They liked it. This is the end of phase one, the final step of phase one.”
Meanwhile, developer Daniel G. Buck, the Las Cruces-based CEO of Economic Equilibrium of New Mexico LLC, which had contracted with the city in December for the housing development through its division H2 Development Group, told the News-Sun his company had been fired.
“They’re deciding to get rid of us and proceed with the neighborhood, something that we designed, to break even for the city,” Buck said, emphasizing the city owes him for travel and per diem.
Buck said the decision to fire him came after disagreements between himself and Yutzy.
“ I t ’ s b i z a r re b e c a u s e the city owes us a lot of m o n e y and it’s a p e r s o n a l ve n d e t – ta,” Buck s a i d . He had at t e n d e d the previous council meeting on June 14 to request better communications than the lack of communication he said he had with Yutzy.
During that meeting, councilors ag reed to communicate more effectively, but Buck told the News-Sun he was dissatisfied with the results. His name or company wasn’t mentioned in last week’s meeting.
Yutzy told the News-Sun Buck isn’t presenting facts as they are, “We essentially reached the end of phase one. He (Buck) has not been taken off the project. What we came to find out was that he can’t really help us in phase two because he’s not licensed as a broker or realtor in the State of New Mexico. Under New Mexico (laws) he can’t sell lots. He was going to outsource it to Marie ‘Betty’ Blea, who’s a builder. She’s also a broker and realtor.”
Marie “Betty” Blea is owner of Custom Homes by Marie.
A career banker initially, Blea became a homebuilder in 1990. She still has projects in the Albuquerque area, but now primarily works in Eddy and Lea counties.
The city manager provided a copy of a three-page letter dated June 23 sent to Buck explaining legal reasons for refusing to use him for real estate sales, as well as why certain charges were not going to be paid for travel while the project was on hold.
“Basically, we came back and said look, phase one is done. We’re moving forward, but we can’t use you or hire you if we’re selling lots,” Yutzy said. “If Marie wants to put you under her construction company or take the liability of putting you under her sales company, you can stay on it, but the city’s no longer going to write you a check because we can’t pay you for services that you legally cannot produce.”
Immediately after approving the re-plat, the council performed a first read of an ordinance designed to allow a homeowners’ association to govern the gated community. A second reading and vote on the ordinance are scheduled for the next council meeting on July 12 at 6 p.m.