Dragonfly, by Clay Wright
Community. It's not just where you live, it's how you interact. Here at High Desert, we believe communication is the number one way to build our community: communication between neighbors, among homeowners and with management.
This website is designed to keep every High Desert resident informed and up-to-date on the vital issues that affect us as homeowners. Here, you'll find quick access to our governing documents, policies and procedures, calendars of upcoming community meetings, copies of our latest newsletter, links to community news and the e-mail addresses of your officers and directors.
We hope this information will provide High Desert homeowners with what they need to know...and when they need to know it.
For the latest news, scroll down. For more information on High Desert, see the menu items to the left, or the Notices and Reminders page or see Community News.
Voting Members Learn About New Spain Entrance Project at Quarterly Meeting
Margo told Voting Members that the area now lacks layering of plants (trees over shrubs over perennials) has missing and dead plants, has boulders not buried well, lacks color by season, little water capture and several bare spots. The new design by the design firm of Dekker/ Perich/Sabatini replaces the grass area with plants, adds terracing boulders for soil and water runoff, adds a stone bench below the cottonwood trees, and adds native grasses and low shrubs and perennials as ground cover. The project will also rework the drip irrigation, create layering and provide a good mix of plants and color across the seasons. The upgrading of the Spain Entrance was identified as a major area of concern during the 2015 Master Plan study. Reviewers considered the entrance unattractive and in urgent need of revision. Work will begin on the Spain Entrance project in early August and should be completed within four to six weeks. The project should not interfere with traffic but if any interruptions develop, homeowners will be notified.
To see the architect design for the project, click on the photo at left or click here to download the pdf.
New Voting Member Training
The July meeting was proceeded by an hour of New Voting Member Training conducted by VM Chair Caroline Enos. Several new Voting Members attended the session which included a presentation about the governing process in High Desert, committees and contact information.
Board of Directors Update
Tom Murdock, President of the High Desert Board of Directors, spoke to Voting Members about a recent water leak along Imperata Street. The leak was identified by Christopher Lopez, Community Association Manager, through increased water bills. High Desert’s landscape contractor Heads Up had crews dig until the leak was found and repaired.
Longtime Voting Member Martin Silver from Chaco Compound (currently an Alternate Member) was recognized for his service to High Desert by Tom. Martin is leaving New Mexico to move to Florida. “Martin has been a Voting Member since Year One,” Tom told Voting Members. “He is one of the original group of homeowners that met in the portable building owned by High Desert Investment Corporation.”
Tom said the association will begin receiving assessments from Mesa Verde, Wilderness Cañon developers, in August at $61 per month per unit. Wilderness Cañon is the newest and last village to be developed in High Desert. He said Mesa Verde will also deposit $2,500 as “seed money” into a new reserve account for the village.
Tom presented a history of Wilderness Cañon beginning in 2005 when Track 13 was sold to Mesa Verde. The initial proposal by the development company included 26 houses which was pared down to 19 by the association. The New Construction Committee approved the project in 2013 and Supplemental Guidelines for the village were written. Construction began in March of 2016. A number of nearby residents have objected to the development, he said, resulting in hundreds of emails to the Board and $3,000 in legal fees to date. Because of threatened litigation, the Board recently decided to have its attorney, Lynn Krupnik, handle all future concerns about Wilderness Cañon. Tom said any future inquiries about the project should be directed in writing to Lynn for review and response.
Party in the Park
Last year, homeowner volunteers led by Peter Strascina, held a community-wide event in the High Desert Park with music, games and food trucks. Tom said a homeowner is needed to coordinate this summer’s event and funds are available. Interested persons should contact HOAMCO at email@example.com.
Dr. Jim Cole, II, Board Treasurer, presented Voting Members with the Financial Report for the recently ended fiscal year. Voting Members had already received by email the financial statements and Dr. Cole reviewed the numbers and answered questions. He ended by saying “High Desert is well positioned to meet its financial obligations as we head into the next fiscal year.”
As the weather continues to be dry and hot, wildlife will be forced down from the mountains in search of food and water.
In late June Pinion Point resident Jamie Kaplan was alerted late one night by her dog Gracie. Gracie led Jamie to the back door where she watched a black bear snack on trash pulled from the garbage cans stored along the side of her house.
Ms. Kaplan describers the bear as being “quite large” and apparently “showed little concern" as to her presence.
High Desert resident John Ledwith also reports “clear signs” of bear activity in June at his Overlook residence, as did Highlands property owner Brenda Gossage.
James Gage site supervisor for G4S reports that his officers will be on the lookout as they patrol High Desert.
Rick Winslow, Bear and Cougar Biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says that it is not at all unusual for bears to venture into High Desert. He says it is important to remember that “this was their home long before it was yours.”
Winslow offers this advice specifically for High Desert residents:
Bears are attracted to anything that is edible or smelly.
Use the checklist below to help bear-proof your home:
- Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
- Don’t leave trash, groceries or animal feed in your car.
- Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
- Store garbage in the garage.
- Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
- Only provide bird feeders outside during November through March and always hang feeders so they are inaccessible to bears. This includes hummingbird feeders.
- Don’t leave any scented products outside, even nonfood items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
- Keep barbecue grills clean.
- Keep pet food and pets inside.
- Keep doors and windows closed and locked. Scents can lure bears inside.
A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear:
Once conditioned to human sources of food bears will seek them out, creating conflicts with humans. Attracting bears to urban areas can also increase risk of vehicle collisions, harming both humans and bears. The bear’s behavior will not stop voluntarily, and unless the nuisance behavior can be corrected, bears may be killed to ensure public safety. In order to avoid these deaths, food sources must be removed. People have a responsibility to the wildlife whose habitat they are sharing!
The Department of Game and Fish has extensive bear encounter information posted on its website. Click here to download the pdf.
High Desert Property Manager Chris Lopez reminds all residents that “It is High Desert policy that trash cans be stored out of sight and set curb side on the morning of scheduled pick-up.” It is also Association policy that trash bins be returned to an appropriate storage area as soon possible once emptied.
Association Can Aid Neighborhoods With Expenses
High Desert Neighborhood Watch Groups are encouraged to participate in National Night Out (NNO) this year on Tuesday evening, August 1. Neighborhood Watch groups in High Desert organizing a block party or similar gathering for their members on National Night Out can be reimbursed for up to $150 for expenses. Interested groups should contact Christopher Lopez, Community Association Manager, at the High Desert HOAMCO office at 505-314-5862 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Night Out is a community/police awareness-raising event in the United States, held annually on the first Tuesday of August. NNO works to increase awareness about anti-crime programs in communities. The events are typically organized by block watches, nonprofit organizations, companies, and police departments. For more information visit the National Night Out webpage.
If you observe a possible violation of these rules, please contact the Community Association Manager ( email@example.com ) who will contact the realtor and request that the signs be removed.
Tom Murdock, standing far left, President of the High Desert Board of Directors, speaks to Voting Members at a City presentation of the new zoning project.
High Desert Voting Members met with zoning officials Wednesday, May 24th to hear about the City’s new zoning plan for Albuquerque and how it might impact the community.
The project, called “ABC to Z,” is an effort to update the established Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan and simplify the city’s zoning regulations.
The city’s ambitious new zoning plan will take place in two phases. Phase 1, the current phase, is to simply match new zoning designations (such as R1A, MX-FB, NRC1 as shown in the box) to the existing zoning maps and city development. The new code designations are designed to simplify the 1970s zoning code as the city as has expanded in the ensuing years with scores of sector developments. Phase 1 will translate the old codes into the closest possible match with the new codes. Phase 1 is not the final effort to zone the City—simply an attempt to match the new codes with existing zoning maps. Phase 1 will include a series of public meetings and citizen input over the next few months. Phase 1 calls for the City’s Land Use, Planning, and Zoning (LUPZ) Committee to present the updated maps to the City Council for approval which should take place sometime next fall. A public hearing with LUPZ is set for August 16 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
Once the City Council approves Phase 1, the project will enter Phase 2 which takes the new codes and matches them to existing development. This is an effort to fix mismatches of the new codes to actual buildings and development throughout the city. An example of this is already in High Desert. Land on which the Legends was built was zoned commercial originally on the older zoning maps. In the early 2000s, developers decided against building a shopping center and instead developed the Legends. Phase 1 matched the new codes as closely as possible to the old codes, designating the original commercially zoned area of the Legends from C1 to MX-FB, or Mixed use-Form Based. In Phase 2, LUPZ will look at the actual development of the land (now residential) and should then designate the area R-1A, Residential Single Family Detached.
The High Desert Board of Directors recently hired a real estate attorney specialist to represent High Desert’s best interests as the city undertakes the new zoning project . Tim Flynn-O’Brian was hired in May and will work with the Board and HOAMCO to make sure any new zoning changes will not impact High Desert’s Guidelines and CC&Rs.
Shanna Schultz, Policy Analyst/Planning with the City, gave a slide presentation to Voting Members at the Holiday Park Community Center meeting. She emphasized the zoning project is in progress and will include public hearings over the next year.
She emphasized the new zoning will not include a new road between High Desert and Glenwood Hills, a concern several residents had voiced.
“Our intent is not to change anyone’s zoning,” she said. “Phase 1 is about trying to figure out what your zoning allows you to do and match it to a new set of letters.” Phase 2, she said, will take the new letters and match them to the actual construction in an area.
Some Voting Members expressed concern about the possibility the new zoning could allow High Desert property owners to build two units per lot with two apartments in each unit. Russell D. Brito, Planning Manager with the City, said High Desert’s CC&Rs will always prevail over the new plan. He said building permits are granted with the New Construction Committee’s recommendations in mind.
Another Voting Member asked if the new zoning project is an effort by the city to encourage more development east of Tramway. Shanna said she has been with the project for two years and has never heard any discussion of the possibility of more development as the result of the project.
Open Space within High Desert was also discussed at the meeting. High Desert owns a number of Open Space areas with trails within the community. The new maps matched some of those areas with new codes for parks which could impact High Desert’s obligations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) along the trails, including paving and handrails. Tom Murdock, President of the Board of Directors, said the new attorney will address those areas with the City.
Shanna encouraged Voting Members and High Desert residents to visit the project’s website at www.abc-zone.com for details and a timeline.
By Trace Salley
Scott Patrick Homes
Interior paving began May 22 in Wilderness Cañon. The development of the village is near completion. The utilities are installed, nearly all of the curbs and gutters are in. They will be repaving a small segment of High Desert Place as well. Once that is done, we will install the gates, common area landscaping and other finishing details. The final steps include survey confirmations, engineer certifications, and final inspections. Construction of new homes will begin this summer.
Presented With Certificate of Appreciation
Photo Above: From left to right: Office Manager James Gage, C.P.O. Charles Nichols, General Manager Jimmy Ramos.
High Desert G4S Patrol Officer Charles Nichols was presented with an internal Certificate of Appreciation from G4S April 5th for “Outstanding Customer Service to the Residents of High Desert.”
“This award was given for his general ability on the job,” said James Gage, G4S Office Manager. “We’ve received multiple compliments on his customer service, particularly pertaining to assisting with open garage doors in the community.”
The award read: Charles Nichols is a dedicated officer who has been a driving force for the safety of the residents and shows great concern for the homeowners. His level of awareness, job performance and dedication to providing excellent customer service to the residents of High Desert and maintaining G4S values along with his attention to detail has prevented numerous possible thefts and vandalism in the High Desert communities.
Officer Nichols has been assigned to High Desert since joining G4S in October 2013. He works the midnight to 8 a.m. patrol shift Monday through Friday. He is originally from Mesa, Arizona and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1972, retiring in 1995. During his time in the Air Force, Officer Nichols received more than 18 medals and commendations. He lives in Rio Rancho.
“I love working here in High Desert,” Officer Nichols said. “I enjoy doing my best to make the residents feel safe and secure.”
Heads Up Landscape Contractors was one of two winners of the Jack & Donna Rust Award for Excellence in Ethical Business Practice by a for-profit business. Heads Up has been High Desert's contracted vendor for landscape maintenance for many years. Samaritan Counseling Center of Albuquerque announced the recipients of its 2017 New Mexico Ethics in Business Awards in late February. There were 28 nominees for the Awards this year. The selection committee is made up of community and business leader volunteers. The announcement was also made in the Albuquerque Journal. Click here to read the article in full.
"Our relationship with Heads Up has always been based on ethical principles and we are very pleased to see the company recognized for their excellent business practices," said Tom Murdock, President of the High Desert Board of Directors.
Those precautions include putting your mail out as late as possible before pick-up by USPS mail carriers and picking it up as soon as possible after delivery. Other alternatives include choosing to have your mail delivered directly to the Steve Schiff Post Office at 9719 Candelaria Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111; (505) 346-0985.
Albuquerque Police Department’s Crime Prevention Specialist Jill Garcia issued two documents to neighborhoods concerned with mail theft. One of the documents deals with mail theft of tax documents as people begin filing tax returns and anticipating refunds through the mail. She advises filing taxes online, dropping off documents at a secure receptacle or site, and picking up mail daily as early as possible at a cluster box.
Jill also advises residents to advise their mail carrier if they plan to be out of town so that mail can be held.
Or, alternatively, have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail daily.
Click below to see both mail documents issued by the police department concerning mail.
Protecting Your Mail
Pets are a part of life here in High Desert. For some homeowners, a pet is as much a member of the family as any human. For others, pets are an important tool in deterring crime. Owning a pet carries serious responsibility. Maintaining their health and wellness is one example. Cleaning up after them is another important obligation.One very important aspect of owning a pet is ensuring that they exist harmoniously within our community. Allowing a pet to bark incessantly destroys the tranquility we work so hard to achieve in our community. Sound carries. One barking dog can disturb literally dozens of households.
City law is clear on the topic:
§ 9-2-3-7 Animals Disturbing the Peace.
No person shall allow an animal in his possession or control to persistently or continuously bark, howl or make noise common to its species, or otherwise to disturb the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of the city or keep or maintain an animal in a manner which produces noxious or offensive odors or otherwise endangers the health and welfare of the inhabitants of the city.
('74 Code, § 6-2-6G) (Ord. 40-1987; Am. Ord. 71-1989; Am. Ord. 33-1992)
Pet owners can keep the peace and avoid hefty fines by taking measures to control their pets. Those affected by barking dogs have options as well. Concerned homeowners can visit the City of Albuquerque website and fill out a complaint form. Click on the link to file a complaint: http://www.cabq.gov/pets/programs-services/animal-noise-complaint/
The city will want a written log and/or a statement with dates and times of disturbances. Animal Control may then investigate. An Animal Control officer will want to know if you are willing to file criminal charges against your neighbor. The officer will also want to know if you have exhausted all means of dealing with the problem, such as talking with your neighbor or contacting the city's Alternative Dispute Resolution office for help through a mediation process. If there is sufficient evidence, charges may be filed and you may need to testify in a criminal trial. It is not a quick process. It can be several months before a trial date is even set.
The High Desert ROA and G4S security patrol cannot investigate or file complaints on behalf of residents. The city indicates that it must be done by the affected resident.
Homeowners who ignore violation letters, neglect to pay their association dues, rent their houses without notifying the association, or fail to comply with New Construction Committee directives will be subject to a series of escalating penalties. These fines will increase with time and then lead to the following: a property lien; a legal suit and trial with attendant costs, fees, and post-judgment enforcement; possession and sale of the homeowner’s non-exempt property by the Bernalillo County Sheriff; writs of garnishment of bank accounts et al.; and eventual foreclosure.
The Board of Directors contracted with an Albuquerque lawyer last fall for a trial period to address the escalating problems with homeowners who are delinquent in paying fines and assessments. Using this service has already resulted in successful collection of approximately $25,000 owed to the HDROA. His work is paid through inclusion in the legal procedures noted above.
For example, a homeowner who does not pay the association’s assessment in a timely manner will now face a series of actions beginning with a fine of $100 for the first quarter of delinquency followed by fines of $200 for subsequent quarters. Accruing interest will also be added. The homeowner will have the option of a hearing before the Board of Directors. Failure to reach an agreement at this hearing will lead to a property lien, intervention by the attorney, and a legal suit.
Speaking for the Board of Directors, Vice President Dave Bentley noted that a small number of homeowners in High Desert have simply ignored paying their assessments. "This is totally unfair to those many residents who do pay their assessments on time," he said. "Our enforcement policies did not have sufficient teeth in them to provide the necessary incentive for every resident to comply. As a result, residents who did pay their assessments were subsidizing the costs of all the features and advantages associated with living in High Desert for those people who did not pay."
The newly adopted enforcement policy has four sections: Assessment Delinquency Policy, Non-Monetary Violation of Governing Documents Policy, Rental Agreement Violation Policy, and New Construction Committee Directive Violations Policy.
For non-monetary violations, no fine occurs until 10 days after the third notice when the fine will be $100. The fines for continued noncompliance will then increase to $250 after 10 more days and increase to $500 after an additional 10 days.
Residents can view the new policy on the Policies page (or click here to see the Enforcement Policy). The new policy replaces the previous Enforcement Policy, New Construction Committee Enforcement Policy, and the Billing & Delinquency Policy. The 11-page pdf document is fully searchable.
"This new policy provides for a hearing where the homeowner can appear before the Board of Directors to discuss any problem," said Dave. "Our Board of Directors understands that circumstances happen, and we are available to work with residents who experience such situations. We do, however, have a responsibility to ensure enforcement of all the rules and regulations that apply to living in High Desert. Adoption of the new policy and the engagement of an attorney who specializes in this area provide a fair and expeditious process for such enforcement. Please refer to the document on the website for specific information."
Are you already renting your High Desert house to tenants, or plan to rent it soon? If so, you are now required to notify the association and provide tenant names and contact information— and you may not rent your property for less than six months at a time. Short term rentals, such as those done on vacation rental online sites, are now prohibited in High Desert. Information on tenants must be provided to the association. Continued failure to comply will result in a series of escalating fines, possible court action, liens and even foreclosure.
The new High Desert Rental Policy was approved by the Board of Directors December 15, 2015 after Voting Members acted last autumn to amend the Use Restrictions of the CC&Rs. The amendment added a new subsection prohibiting rentals of less than six months unless approved in advance by the Board. The new Rental Policy spells out the procedure for renting homes in a four-page document that includes a "Tenant Information Sheet" to be completed by the homeowner with contact information on all tenants.
Failure to comply with the new policy will result in a $200 fine after 10 days following the second notice, and a $500 fine 10 days after the third notice, along with a series of actions outlined in the new Enforcement Policy adopted in January. The Rental Policy can be viewed as a pdf on the Policies page. All homeowners were recently notified of the new policy by mail.
Please note that fireworks in High Desert are strongly discouraged.
All fireworks are prohibited in public parks throughout the city, including High Desert Park. The city has a total ban of any fireworks in Open Space. Likewise, fireworks are always illegal on Forest Service and other federal public lands.
“It's dry here, we're adjacent to Open Space, and we are ripe in all areas for wildfire,” said Christopher.
Stage I Restrictions are in place for the Bosque and Open Space which means no fireworks are allowed, along with no open flames, camping or spark-emitting equipment.
City of Albuquerque Fireworks Hotline:
- To report illegal fireworks in Albuquerque from July 1-July 5, 2017, go to https://www.cabq.gov/fire/how-to-report-illegal-fireworks to fill out the “Report Illegal Fireworks” form online. More information on fireworks is also available on this webpage.
- Rather use your smartphone? The city is also asking residents to report illegal fireworks via its 311 app. Click here to download the app.
- Using illegal fireworks is punishable with a citation and immediate confiscation of the illegal fireworks and places the community at risk for fires.
- It is a misdemeanor.
- A mandatory court appearance is required.
- A fine may be levied up to $500 and 90 days in jail.
- The improper use of permissible fireworks and/or the illegal use of aerial or ground audible devices can result in the user or supervising adult being found grossly negligent and financially responsible for damages.