ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s a sidewalk spat between the City of Albuquerque and a long time property owner that claims the city continues to break the law when it comes to Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction. Now the courts are involved.
The nine-mile stretch of ART construction along Central Avenue is not just about the roadway.
“We’re doing all new sidewalks,” Chief of Operations Officer Michael Riordan said. “We’re making them wider, we’re filling in the gaps where there were no sidewalks and going six feet in most of the places that we can.”
Riordan said the city is taking into consideration access to businesses and the American Disabilities Act — but he said sometimes it gets a little tricky.
“When you make adjustments to the sidewalk, the property lines that are adjacent to someone’s business is immediately there, and you cannot have a difference in grade,” he said. “When we do that, we’ll get a temporary construction easement. We want to make sure we have access to every business along Central Avenue, but in order to do that sometimes we have to get onto people’s properties in order to tie the grades together.”
However, the city must get permission from the property owner to do any kind of work on their property. That’s something President of Peterson Properties, Douglas Peterson, said the city failed to do twice.
“They’ve been running over property owner’s rights, so we’re making it clear to them that when it comes to us, they’re going to get a lot of pushback,” Peterson said.
Peterson has been very vocal about his opposition to the mayor’s project.
Last year, construction crews used his property on the corner of San Pedro and Central to drop piles of dirt and park their vehicles. Then this year, he said crews dug a trench along the sidewalk at 52nd and Central, which damaged his property.
“Again without our permission, now having learned from our other case, we sued them first,” Peterson said.
Last month, the city fired back and filed its own lawsuit. It wants access to the driveway at the northwest corner of Central, just west of Rio Grande. Peterson owns the property there.
Peterson said he doesn’t object to what the city is trying to do as far as the sidewalk construction goes, he just wants the city to play by the rules.
“Follow the law,” he said. “When you got that much property, that’s not just an accident, that means someone within that administration is willfully ignoring people’s property rights and telling their contractors to do work without permission.”
The city declined to comment on Peterson’s specific case.
Peterson said he has at least six properties along Central Avenue that ART construction will impact.
According to the city, it only asks for a 30-day easement to be on the property.
As for the first lawsuit, the case was settled in court. The court granted the city permission to go onto the property at San Pedro and Central to complete the work it had started, meanwhile Peterson Properties received compensation.