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Welcome to the High Desert Residential Owners Association     Albuquerque, New Mexico


April Sunrise
High Desert homeowner Tom Kilroy took this stunning photo from his property in The Highlands on an early morning this month.

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, home improvement information, links to Village 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
Notices and Reminders page.

Bernalillo County Launches 'No Poop Fairy' Campaign

Bernalillo County has begun a new campaign to encourage residents to clean up after their pets.  The campaign, which includes TV spots, posters, and printed material, is based on the theme “There Is No Poop Fairy – Grab It, Bag It, Toss It.”  In addition to reminding residents that pet waste should be picked up as a common courtesy to their neighbors, the campaign seeks to dispel the myth that dog poop is somehow natural and harmless to the environment by pointing out that over 450 tons of poop can end up in the river each year through stormwater runoff – an amount which can have a significant impact on water quality throughout our area.

“The Poop Fairy campaign is very relevant to High Desert,” notes Tom Murdock, HDROA President, “and we strongly support the county’s efforts.  We budget more than $20,000 a year to service and maintain the numerous Doggie Pots around the community and we really want our residents and visitors to use them.  Hopefully, this campaign will serve as a reminder to residents that picking up their dog’s waste will not only improve the appearance of our neighborhoods but is also an important contribution to the health and safety of all our citizens.”

For more information on the campaign and to learn important facts about the impact of pet waste, please follow these links:


Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner Honors NCC Members and Thea Berg


Dozens of High Desert volunteers were honored Friday night, March 28, at the 3rd Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner.  Top honors went to the five members of New Construction Committee (NCC) and to Thea Berg, former Welcome Committee Chair, for their extensive volunteer efforts.


The dinner honored all volunteers for their work on behalf of High Desert included Voting and Alternate Members, the Board of Directors, and committee members. More than 80 volunteers attended the dinner which was held at the Tanoan Country Club. Clay Wright, Board Director, organized the dinner which included remarks by Tom Murdock, High Desert Board president who presented the awards.


“It takes more than 100 volunteers to keep our association running,” he said.   “Your willingness to give so generously of your time to the various committees and activities is a key factor in making High Desert a great community. We deeply appreciate the time you have donated to your community. This event is our modest thank-you for all your efforts.”


The New Construction Committee members who received the collective Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award included Russ Welsch, Chair; Steve Hamm, Rick Lentz, Jeff West and Jim Mayo. Steve Hamm and Russ Welsch are shown in the photo at left accepting the award from Tom Murdock on behalf of the NCC. The award was given for their work over the past couple years revising the Guidelines to Sustainability documents that contain the architectural standards for High Desert. The effort took hundreds of hours and considerable attention to the details of building and architecture. The resulting documents are updated, easily searchable and contain clearer illustrations for reference.


Additionally, NCC members were recognized for their dedication to ensuring that the building process in High Desert is efficient, fair and consistent. This past year the NCC handled eight new individual home construction projects as well as the revival of construction in The Legends gated village, while completing final inspections on several homes that had been outstanding from years past.


“We are recognizing each of the NCC members for their hard work and dedication to perhaps one of the most important aspects that makes High Desert a special place to live,” Tom said. "We are fortunate that these volunteers are willing to offer their special talents to help ensure that all the homeowners in High Desert continue to live in a community of beautiful homes on some of the most special land in Albuquerque."


Thea Berg (pictured at right) was also honored as an Outstanding Volunteer at this year’s Recognition Dinner.  Tom presented her with the award, saying “Thea has been an active supporter of High Desert for a long time. She’s been out there spearheading the Welcome Committee, delivering Welcome Bags to new owners, organizing Wine & Cheese parties for new residents, helping to maintain Open Space trails, cleaning up the High Desert park, removing litter from Tramway—and doing it all with unfailing enthusiasm and goodwill.”  




High Desert Board Elections Set For Voting Members' Annual Meeting in April

By Tom Kilroy, Nominating Committee Chair 

Three positions on the seven-member High Desert Residential Owners Association (HDROA) Board of Directors are up for election this spring.  Elections will be held at the Voting Members’ Annual Meeting on April 24, 2014.

The Nominating Committee, which is made up of one active Board member and three or more Association property owners, is currently reviewing all Statements of Interest submitted earlier this year by homeowners running for the open positions. The Committee has scheduled interviews with candidates throughout March. A slate of candidates will be presented to the Voting Members at their Annual Meeting on April 24, 2014. Nominations from the floor can also be made by any Voting Member prior to voting.

The Board of Directors positions are two-year terms and elections of the seven-member board are staggered every year with positions opening each April. The terms of the following directors will expire in April:
• Tom Murdock
• David Bentley
• Jay Hartfield

Owners Will Be Notified By Email If Requested House Plans Are Available For Pick-Up From April 22-May 16

high desert houseThe deadline has passed for homeowners to request original High Desert house plans, if available. A number of original house plans are in storage and will be distributed to owners who requested their plans (if those plans are available) by the deadline of April 7. Most of the available plans in storage are for custom built homes, not builder homes.

Homeowners who have requested copies of plans will be notified this month by email if their house plans are available for pick-up. If an owner has requested plans but does not receive an email or phone call from the High Desert office, then no plans are available for that address. Due to the large number of requests from High Desert owners, only those owners with plans available for distribution will be notified that plans exist and should be picked up at the High Desert office at 10555 Montgomery Boulevard N.E., Building One, Suite 100, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87111 between April 22 and May 16. 

No Email From HOAMCO?  No Plans Available
“If you don’t hear from us—even if you wrote and asked for your plans—that means we absolutely do not have any plans that match your address,” said Sarah Hoey, Community Association Manager for High Desert. “Not all house plans were kept in storage. If you requested your plans by April 7, and if the NCC volunteers find those plans, we will write you and ask that you pick them up at the High Desert office from April 22 through May 16.”

The High Desert/HOAMCO office has received more than 450 requests from High Desert homeowners interested in obtaining original house plans. High Desert Residential Owners Association inherited the house plans from High Desert Investment Corporation (HDIC) in early 2011 when the Association took over duties of the New Construction Committee (NCC). The NCC maintained these records in a storage facility that costs the homeowners a significant amount of money each year.

All the plans are still in storage and NCC members and volunteers are working at the facility to identify and sort the house plans requested by homeowners. Later this month, the sorted plans will be taken to the High Desert/HOAMCO office on Montgomery for pick-up by owners from April 22 to May 16. Only those homeowners who have received an email from HOAMCO should stop by the office to pick up the plans.

Pick Up Plans In Person Or Have Written Authorization
Plans should be picked up in person at the High Desert/HOAMCO office on Motgomery by the owner of the property. A photo ID may be required. If the owner cannot pick up their plan personally, they can give written authorization to another individual for pick-up of their plans. The written authorization must be presented at the HOAMCO office for the plans to be released to anyone other than the owner.

$25 Charge to Mail Plans
Owners who will not be in town during the pick-up period (April 22-May 16) may request the plans be mailed to them at a charge of $25. A check or money order for $25 must be received by the HOAMCO office before plans can be mailed. The request for mailing should be made by email to Sarah Hoey at Owners who have requested that their plans be mailed will be accommodated as soon as possible after May 16. Some owners prematurely mailed checks to the High Desert office for house plans that are not available. That money will be refunded by HOAMCO at a later date.

Any plans not picked up by May 16, will be destroyed. 


High Desert  Opera Trip  Planned for The Impresario & Le Rossignol on
Saturday, July 19, 2014
By Millie Yamada, Chair of the High Desert Opera Committee

opera logoHigh Desert residents and friends are once again in for a real treat with this year’s Santa Fe opera trip when we will experience The Impresario & Le Rossignol.  Tickets are $255 each, or $510 per couple, which includes opera tickets, transportation to and  from High Desert, and dinner in Santa Fe. The deadline for sign-up is May 21, 2014 and tickets are limited.  Click here to download the 2014 pdf sign-up form.

In Mozart’s The Impresario, divas vie for a plum role while a producer struggles to cope with their rivalry and with the stresses of work in the music business. In these ingeniously framed productions, the stars’ rivalry centers on casting for Stravinsky’s opera Le Rossignol, which forms the second half of a perfectly balanced double-bill. With English dialogue by the British dramatist Ranjit Bolt and additional Mozart concert arias folded into the score, The Impresario takes us to 1920s Paris for the high-stress auditions. 

With the same cast, Le Rossignol enfolds us in Hans Christian Andersen’s poetic fable in which an emperor learns the lesson of humility. Sopranos Erin Morley and Brenda Rae face off as the dueling divas. Michael Gieleta will direct, and Kenneth Montgomery will conduct. This production of Le Rossignol honors the centennial of the opera’s premiere in Paris in 1914. It will be a most worthwhile evening! If you have never attended the Santa Fe Opera, these two one-act operas are an excellent first opportunity! 

On July 19, our group will travel by chartered bus to dinner at Dinner for Two in Santa Fe and then on to the Santa Fe Opera. The bus will depart High Desert Park at 4:30 p.m. and will return to the park between 1:00 and 1:30 a.m. Tickets are limited, so be sure to get yours soon. In order to meet payment deadlines, the last date of sales is May 21, 2014. 

Questions? Call me, Millie Yamada at 856-8523 or email me at

Modifications Committee Seeks One Additional Member
The High Desert Modifications Committee continues to seek one additional member for its five-member committee.  The Modifications Committee reviews all housing modification requests in High Desert.  Any homeowner may serve on the committee.  Members have diverse backgrounds and specific training is not required.  

For more information, see the Volunteer Opportunities page or contact Fred Gorenz, Chair, at (505) 401-4650 or via email at:

NCC Updates Guidelines for Sustainability
By Mary Kurkjian, Chair, Communications Committee

The New Construction Committee (NCC) has published an updated version of the architectural requirements for the builder villages in High Desert. This follows the update of the Guidelines for the Estate and Premier villages that was completed last summer. Last published in 2003, the Guidelines for Sustainability are the foundation for all exterior design and modifications of the homes in High Desert.

Click here to see the Revised Guidelines for Sustainability for Builder Homes, or for the Revised Guidelines for Sustainability for Estate and Premier Homes, or go to the Governing Documents page and scroll to "Guidelines for Sustainability."

The Guidelines were developed at the time of original construction of the High Desert community in 1995 and were last updated in 2003. The New Construction Committee is chartered under the Association’s governing documents with writing and interpreting the Guidelines. Under the leadership of the former chair of the NCC, Ray Berg, the Committee undertook a major re-write of the Estate and Premier Guidelines to bring them up to date with our current construction standards and to make them more readable.

NCC member Russ Welsch told the recent Voting Members meeting that the Guidelines have been updated, but not really changed. “We have published a few specific updates to the Guidelines over the past couple years, but essentially the requirements have not changed. We hope that this complete update will allow members to find what they need quicker and with greater clarity.”

Changes included removing the two-column format, which was confusing and duplicative. The Table of Contents was made more complete and accurate. The committee also removed all references to the original developer, High Desert Investment Corporation and replaced them with the Board, NCC or Modifications Committee (MC), as appropriate. They also reordered some sections to collect similar topics together. The Prohibited Plant List, which applies to both Estate and Builder villages, was placed in a separate document by reference so that it can be easily updated and accessed. Provisions that duplicated city, state or federal laws were removed.

Most importantly, the document incorporates the updates that were previously made to the sections on mechanical and solar equipment; mailboxes; lighting; exterior artwork; community walls; and screens, shades and accessory structures.

Happy 20th Anniversary, High Desert!
articles of incorporation Just a little more than 20 years ago, the first documents establishing High Desert Residential Owners Association were officially filed with the state. These documents paved the way for the development of a community of more than 1600 homes, built in a setting which was, for the times, quite unusual.

Until 1993, high end subdivisions in Albuquerque featured lush green landscaping and common areas filled with turf, flowers, hedges and shrubs. Planning a new community around the idea of requiring natural landscaping and water conservation was brand new. But this was a special tract of land—1000 undeveloped high desert acres in the foothills of the Sandias— land that had remained empty and unspoiled through time.

In the early 1990s, the land that is now High Desert belonged to Albuquerque Academy, a private school originally founded as a boys school in 1955 in the basement of an Albuquerque church. Between 1957 and 1964, the school was given a large tract of undeveloped land north of Albuquerque, originally part of the massive Elena Gallegos Land Grant.

The Elena Gallegos Land Grant was a tract of 70,000 acres (or 100 square miles) that stretched from the crest of the Sandias down to the Rio Grande. The Grant was created in 1694 by the Spanish Crown for one Diego Montoya, and then transferred to Elena Gallegos in 1712. Over the next 250 years the land was subdivided by her descendents until most of northern Albuquerque was developed on that original tract. But a large stretch of land from the Rio Grande to the foothills still remained empty, and it was the Albert G. Simms family that donated 9,000 acres to Albuquerque Academy 50 years ago.

The school sold the western portion and used the money to create the first Academy endowment and to build the current campus on Wyoming and Academy. Next, the city bought a large section in the foothills from the school, reselling 7000 acres to the US Forest Service which incorporated it into the Sandia Mountain Wilderness and Cibola National Forest. The city retained 640 acres— which is now the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area/Albert G. Simms Park adjacent to High Desert on the north and east.

This left the 1000-acre undeveloped track we know as High Desert. The Academy established High Desert Investment Corporation (HDIC) to develop a master-planned community based on ideas of sustainability, water conservation and native landscaping. The organization designated to oversee the community-to-be was to be called “High Desert Residential Owners Association” (HDROA) and the first Articles of Incorporation were filed in October 1993. The proceeds from this development have provided Albuquerque Academy with a substantial endowment, used partly to defray tuition costs.

On December 22, 1993, the initial Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) was adopted, setting the stage for the development of High Desert and establishing the standards all homeowners agree to abide by today.

The first sale listed in High Desert the following July was for the tract that became the Pinnacle (now Broadstone) apartments. In September 1994 the first lots in Trailhead were sold to individuals.

What made this master planned community all that different from other Albuquerque developments? The answer can be found in the association’s Guidelines for Sustainability where the vision for the community is clearly outlined: 

As stewards of this land we are committed to the vision of a community conceived, designed and built to preserve nature’s intricate balance. Our goal—an integrated and sustainable community which honors its Southwestern roots and natural habitats while providing a place that will endure.

...The mandate set for High Desert is to achieve “sustainable development.” ...At High Desert sustainability means design and construction in ways that are intended to preserve the resources, ecosystem and natural beauty of the property. Development respects nature. A large percentage of the land remains untouched in order that the rich habitats for plants and animals may continue to thrive. The arroyos remain in their natural state with only the vegetation enhanced to increase the wildlife habitat.

...Our goal is to make High Desert one of the most desirable places to live in the Southwest — a community which balances the needs of the homeowner with a concern for the future of environment.

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of house lot sales in High Desert. It also is the 10th anniversary of the election of the first owner-controlled Board of Directors.

Are you one of the first homeowners in High Desert? If so, we’d like to talk to you about your experiences as one of the first residents for our next anniversary article in the February 2014 issue of the Apache Plume newsletter. Please call Rebecca Murphy at 294-1778 or email her at:

Welcome Committee Has New Co-Chairs:  Maddy and John Shelton
Maddy and John SheltonThe High Desert Welcome Committee has two new co-chairs.  Maddy and John Shelton have volunteered to lead the committee and the High Desert Board of Directors approved their appointment at their January meeting.  Co-Chairs Thea Berg and Susan Gall have stepped down after several years of leading the committee. 

The committee met in mid-January and welcomed new committee members and discussed ideas for new resident Welcome Bags and future committee events.

"Maddy and John Shelton are full of energy and will do a great job," said former co-chair Thea Berg.  "With their enthusiasm and new ideas, this committee will be in good hands."

The Welcome Committee is charged with welcoming all new residents to High Desert. To that end, the committee holds two Wine & Cheese parties each year at the home of a committee member. Invitations are sent to new homeowners and each receives a Welcome Bag that includes a jar of locally made salsa, an Albuquerque Vacation Guide, a general information booklet about High Desert, a packet of wildflower seeds, a newsletter and any other pertinent information the committee wants to include.

The Welcome Committee also holds an annual Studio Tour each fall which highlights High Desert artists. The Tour is a chance for residents to meet their artist neighbors and attend a local event within the community.

Anyone interested in joining the High Desert Welcome Committee can contact Maddy or John Shelton at (505) 823-1047 or via email at

New Volunteer Opportunities Statement of Interest Available to Homeowners
High Desert homeowners interested in volunteering for committees or activities have a simpler way to make their interest known. They may now fill out a new Volunteer Opportunities Statement of Interest and submit it to a central clearinghouse for High Desert volunteer activities. The clearinghouse will be maintained by HOAMCO. Sarah Hoey, Community Association Manager will receive the forms and distribute the volunteer’s information to committee chairs for follow-up. This will help assure that no expression of interest gets overlooked.

While there has been a formal process for volunteering for the “statutory” committees and elected positions at High Desert (Board of Directors, Voting Member, New Construction Committee, Modifications Committee, and Nominating Committee), it has always been an informal process for those who wanted to volunteer for the many other opportunities to help the community. The new procedure will provide a reliable way to engage those who would like to help out with these committees: 

volunteers in the High Desert Demonstration Garden• Welcome Committee
• Community Events (including Opera) Committee
• Landscape Advisory Committee
• Park, Trail and Tramway Cleanup
• Communications Committee
• Contracts Committee 

The new Statement of Interest asks potential volunteers for contact information and to list experience, education and/or background that might prove useful.

Volunteers can still contact Committee Chairs directly to discuss volunteer opportunities, if they prefer. For a list of Committees and Chairs see the Volunteer Opportunities page.

“This new procedure will be a useful way to keep an ongoing list of volunteers, their skills and all contact information for easy access by Committee Chairs, the Board of Directors, and management,” said Sarah. “High Desert relies on volunteers and having a central updated registry of names and interests should prove very helpful in matching the needs of committees to our volunteers.” 

The new Statement of Interest can be found by on the Official Forms page (scroll to Statement of Interest for Volunteer Opportunities)  and downloaded as a pdf, or filled out and submitted online.

Landscape Committee Report
High Desert homeowners can now view the full  Landscape Assessment Report here as a pdf. That report was submitted last spring to the Board by the Landscape Committee, led by homeowner Ray Berg. 

The report, including recommendations, was the result of more than a year's effort by the Committee and several dozen High Desert volunteers who surveyed all the common areas and portions of open space within the community. 

Billing Information For Residents
High Desert residents now have several options for paying assessments. Billing information and payment instructions can be found on the Billing Information page. 

Wildlife in High Desert
Do you have any terrific pictures of wildlife in High Desert that you'd like to share?  Submit your photos (in jpeg form) to and we'll post them on our Wildlife in High Desert page. These photos were taken in High Desert by Bruce Loughridge.  The lizard was seen on a large boulder in Bruce's front yard in Mountain Highlands back in 2007.  He said it measured about 10 inches from front to back and his mate was lounging in the shade nearby.  Bruce took the coyote photo below in the snowy winter of February 2006.  The coyotes continue to howl and prowl the streets of Ricegrass Place this winter, he said.

Notices & Reminders


  To see "Notices and Reminders" for High Desert,
click here.


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