Sandoval County residents opposing proposed bar, liquor store

Posted at: 01/29/2013 8:57 PM
Updated at: 01/29/2013 10:16 PM
By: Maria Guererro, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Not in my backyard. That's what some Sandoval County residents say about a proposed bar and liquor store off I-25 and Hwy. 313.

The residents say they are in an ongoing fight to keep trash, noise and drunk-driving crashes from their Algodones community.

"We come down here because we live in the neighborhood and I think it's part of being responsible as a citizen of the community," said Robert Wagener.

Wagener and a group of neighbors try to keep Algodones clean but says it's hard to do because people tend to use this part of I-25 and Highway 313 as their own personal landfill.

"We've found syringes, condoms, numerous kinds of alcohol, beer, minis," he said of the things they've picked up.

The neighbors also cross the interstate to pick up the same trash.

They fear the drinking problem will only get worse if a liquor store and a bar opens right off the freeway.

Albuquerque bar owner Billy Baldwin wants to open an 89,000 square foot restaurant serving alcohol and a carry-out liquor store.

"I've stood at the coffin-side with a mother whose son died as a result of intoxication driving," said Wagener, a retired pastor.

Wagener has gathered signatures from other neighbors across the interstate to keep the bar and liquor store from opening.

"It's too convenient for people driving between Santa Fe and Albuquerque to stop in, have a few drinks and get on the road again," said Mary Oberg, who lives nearby.

"My hope is that as we look at DWIs here in the Albuquerque and greater Albuquerque area we not only focus on keeping people off the highway and doing what is best by them in the court in terms of justice but we don't build other establishments that serve next to the highway," said Wagener.

The plan to build the bar and liquor store has gone through the first approvals.

The owner now wants to stay open until 2 a.m. instead of 9 p.m., which is what's allowed in this zone.

The Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Commission will hear the appeal in its February 28 meeting.

Baldwin declined to comment for this story.