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Mariposa community developers in Rio Rancho leave homeowners with debt | News

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Mariposa community developers in Rio Rancho leave homeowners with debt
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It's hard times this summer for a high-dollar housing development, with the developer planning to walk away, leaving homeowners with a big bill to pay.

The Mariposa community, on the north end of Rio Rancho, is in danger of being left high and dry on the shifting sands of the desert where it was constructed.

The sands started shifting in the recession when sales slowed down and Mariposa couldn't make payments on a water and sewer system and other improvements included in a special bond issue.

The developer, High Desert Investments, a subsidiary of Albuquerque Academy, decided to pull out of the deal.

This leaft about 100 homeowners with a $16 million debt to pay in the form of higher taxes.

"It can go up as much as $15,000, $20,000 a year," said homeowner John Knipps. "So how can anybody afford that?"

Many of those homeowners packed into Rio Rancho City Hall for a meeting Friday - a meeting where High Desert was a no-show.

"They're real estate scoundrels, leaving 100 people about to go homeless," said Mariposa homeowner Avery Meizner."I just want to know why weren't they here today? Why did they cancel the last meeting?"

"This whole thing has brought the community together in a way I've never seen," said Zach Bryan, the first homeowner to move into Mariposa. "We've become tight as a community to fight this. We will not go down without a fight."

One option that Rio Rancho city leaders say is not on the table is an over-all tax increase to pay the bills for Mariposa.

They will be busy over the next few days, meeting with their legal team to try to resolve the crisis without bankrupting Mariposa homeowners, and without increasing the tax burden on Rio Rancho taxpayers.

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