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Aztec City Commission approves new comprehensive plan

Implementation of various elements next step in process

FARMINGTON — For the first time in two decades, Aztec has a new long-range plan for its future.

Members of the City Commission voted unanimously June 22 to approve the city's new draft comprehensive plan, a document that is designed to guide Aztec's development until the year 2040.

City staff members and officials from the Albuquerque-based firm Consensus Planning spent the last year soliciting public feedback and putting the plan together. That process crossed the finish line Tuesday with the City Commission's approval.

It will now be up to the city staff to implement the plan, something Aztec's community development director, Steven Saavedra, has noted throughout the process is very important. In a presentation to the City Commission on Tuesday, Saavedra noted the plan envelops the city's past, present and future.

He also said it also will be important for residents to continue to participate as various elements of the plan become reality over the next several years.

"We have no illusions that everybody is going to agree on these strategies," he said.

Saavedra began his presentation by showing commissioners a map of the areas the town has annexed over time and explaining that the new plan calls for the addition of more territory.

"As you can tell, Aztec has grown quite a bit in the last 20 years," he said.

The new plan has targeted a handful of plots for annexation, some of which would connect noncontiguous "islands" of Aztec property that currently are surrounded by unincorporated parts of San Juan County. Saavedra noted that annexation is often a controversial subject, and he emphasized the need for a thorough cost-benefit analysis to be conducted by the city before any territory is annexed "so we don't get attracted to this one shiny object."

Saavedra also said Aztec officials would be well-advised to put together a marketing strategy to advertise and promote the city to businesses and residents not just throughout New Mexico, but across the entire region. Such a move could pay dividends if Aztec makes a priority of improving its schools and vocational training in the years ahead, he said.

"But that doesn't do any good if you don't have a well-trained work force," he said.

Saavedra noted the specific infrastructure improvements targeted in the plan for the next 20 years and explained the benefits of having included those in the document.

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"(That) can make Aztec more competitive in the future for capital outlay (funding)," he said, explaining that strategy will give the city an advantage over other communities when it comes to seeking outside funding.

"We already have a leg up," he said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Rosalyn Fry praised the city staff and members of the planning firm for their work on the document.

"I'm just impressed with the plan," she said, describing it as "a snapshot in time" and complimenting its flexibility. "We'll be able to make changes as needed, as the snapshot changes."

Commissioner Michael Padilla Sr. said many aspects of the plan are elements that have been talked about for adoption for several years, and the city has gotten a running start at implementing them.

"We're already doing some of the projects and some of the stuff our citizens want us to do," he said.

Commissioners approved the plan by a unanimous vote.

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Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.