RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Life changed for high school english teacher Jim Mura after a freak ocean swimming accident left him with a traumatic brain injury.
Now moving and communicating are done with difficulty. One thing that brings him joy: a view of the Sandias.
Now plans for a house of worship next door are threatening that window to the outside world and breaking a promise the family says the church made.
“There are so many things Jim can’t do anymore that he used to do,” said his wife, Janet. “This seems like such a small thing.”
For years, the couple made plans for a home in Rio Rancho they could spend the rest of their lives in, one that was wheelchair accessible and had a view for Jim, so he didn’t feel boxed in.
When they learned a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall would be built next door, they say they met with church representatives several times and explained the situation.
They thought they had a handshake agreement: the church would not block Jim’s view from the dining room window.
When concrete was finally poured a few weeks ago, the family learned the building would be centered in front of the window.
The family says the general contractor told them the change of plans was because of a need for more parking spaces.
“They just have so much land there and so many other placement options,” said daughter Kate Mura, who started a Facebook page called “Save’s Jim’s View. “I find it difficult to believe that they couldn’t have figured out the parking spaces and whatever square footage of their building.”
News 13 reached out to a church elder, who’s also in charge of the construction. He did not want to comment.
The family says they’ve spoken with Rio Rancho city council members, who told them the same thing they told News 13: that unless the builders are breaking codes, there’s not much they can do.
“I completely sympathize with Jim and Janet Mura’s situation, but the Jehovah’s Witness church is not violating any ordinances or codes that I am aware of,” said city council member Chuck Wilkins in an email. “We would all hope that our neighbors would be considerate when building next to an existing property owner, but this is not always the case.”
The family says they requested blueprints from the Jehovah’s Witness representatives and from the City of Rio Rancho but neither would release them.
A spokesperson for the City of Rio Rancho said the city would need to investigate that claim.
“It very well may have been the case that at the time they inquired, the plans had not been submitted to the city yet,” said spokesperson Peter Wells. “Or, there may have been confusion over how to request to inspect and obtain and pay for copies of public documents.”
With foundation already poured, the family still hopes the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a change of heart.