Purchase of two more conservation easements were expected to occur at the August 17 Village Council meeting. They would be the last uses of the $2.5 million in general obligation bonds approved by voters in 2018. The council was presented with purchase agreements on farmland owned by Courtenay and Anne Koontz and by Emilio, Veronica and Renee Lopez. Approval has been expected since spring, so council action basically would be acceptance of the appraisals and direction to proceed with the acquisition.
The proposed easement on the 10-acre Phelps Farm, owned by the Koontzes, is appraised at $820,000. The easement on the three-acre Lopez Farm was appraised at $370,000. Councillors’ decision August 17 could not be included in this issue. The Phelps Farm was acquired by Courtenay Koontz for Trees of Corrales in 2016, sold by Phelps McKinley, Jr. Last year, the Village acquired a similar easement on the Haslam family’s farm a little south of the Phelps and Lopez tracts between the Main Canal and the Corrales Lateral irrigation ditch west of Corrales Road. That earlier acquisition preserved 12 acres at a cost of approximately $960,000 from those bonds.
The easement agreement between the Lopez family and the Village of Corrales notes that the three acres “includes scenic open space located along, visible from, and directly adjacent to Corrales Road, the primary thoroughfare through the village and the Corrales Bosque Preserve; and a public recreational trail along Sandoval Lateral, which is frequented by many residents and visitors for walking, running, horseback riding and mountain biking. The publicly accessible viewing platform along the Sandoval Lateral and Corrales Bosque Preserve will also provide significant opportunities for the public to enjoy the scenic values of the property.”
As with earlier farmland added to the Village’s farmland preservation program, the easements to be acquired would be held and administered for the Village by the New Mexico Land Conservancy, based in Santa Fe. If the Lopez deal goes through, the owners of the land, or any subsequent owners, would have the right to construct an agriculture-related building within a quarter-acre enclave, similar to other earlier transactions. At the May 25 Village Council meeting, an option to purchase a conservation easement on that land owned by Courtnay and Anne Koontz was approved unanimously. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.8 June 5, 2021 “Another 10 Acres of Prime Farmland To Be Saved.”)