Luján asks AG to review Farmington apartments

Dan Schwartz
From left, Phyllis Newlon and Linda Blakesley on Oct. 15 walk around the Apple Ridge Apartments in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — The state Attorney General’s Office is reviewing documents from a New Mexico representative who has expressed concerns about a taxpayer-subsidized apartment complex in Farmington where a maintenance man discovered a dead body earlier this year.

Authorities found 64-year-old John Hall’s body at the Apple Ridge Apartments on Sept. 29. Police determined Hall died about two weeks earlier at his home in unit No. 122.

In a letter dated Oct. 20, Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., asked staff at the state attorney general’s office to review issues at the apartment complex. James Hallinan, spokesman for the attorney general, confirmed on Monday that his office received a formal letter and documents from Luján requesting the review.

“The Office of the Attorney General is exploring any possible avenue in this matter to assist the Office of Congressman Ben Ray Luján and the citizens of San Juan County,” Hallinan said in an email.

Residents told The Daily Times earlier this month that they were worried about conditions at the 81-unit complex before Hall’s death. A spokesman for Luján said the congressman became concerned about residents' safety last year after hearing about those conditions from Farmington City Councilor Mary Fischer.

A spokesman for Luján said in an email on Monday that the congressman's office is considering every option to address concerns about the apartments.

The entrance to the Apple Ridge Apartments is pictured on Oct. 9 in Farmington.

In interviews with The Daily Times, residents reported poor conditions, including leaks that led to mold and caused walls and ceilings to bow with moisture.

Residents Phyllis Newlon, 74, and Linda Blakesley, 66, said the problems started in 2013 when property owners Yes Housing Inc. contracted with Dunlap & Magee to manage the property.

Christine Shipley, vice president of operations for Dunlap & Magee, has previously told The Daily Times that Hall's death was unfortunate and sad, but the apartments are not an assisted-living or nursing facility.

Shipley did not immediately respond to an email sent late Monday seeking comment.

In Luján's letter to the attorney general’s office, he said the complex made "much-needed" improvements after he spoke with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which subsidizes the apartments, about the conditions, but he still had concerns.

“The concerns about mismanagement are of a severity that many wishing to lodge complaints were only willing to do so under the condition of anonymity,” he said.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.