Master plan has 25-year vision

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The Los Lunas Village Council has approved a master plan designed to guide the village's growth over the next 25 years.

The 2035 Comprehensive Plan, approved Oct. 10, not only includes illustrative maps and U.S. Census information about the community, but has a history of Los Lunas, accompanied by several historic photographs.

Two years in the making, this plan is quite different from the old one, which was drafted more than 10 years ago, said Christina Ainsworth, the village's community development director.

"The old plan was pretty basic," said Ainsworth. "It addressed problems that need to be corrected, but this (new) plan goes a step further in establishing a vision for the community."

There is a sharp focus on the qualities of life villagers said they wanted to preserve, and the activities, shopping and services they would like the village to have.

Planners drew from several public input meetings and surveys conducted last year, as well as the village's "branding" campaign.

Attracting desirable businesses to the area is also a key element, Ainsworth said.

"When they come to our community, they need to see that we care about it," she said. "That we're looking out for our citizens — have clean streets … open space — that we're providing those amenities."

According to population projections by the Geospatial and Population Studies group of the University of New Mexico, there will be about 107,000 people living in Valencia County in 2035. Los Lunas is expected to gain at least 6,000 new residents.

Housing goals include attractive and affordable apartments, condominiums and townhouses.

Much of the new development is directed away from heavy traffic areas, and focuses on designing walkable communities where cars aren't necessary. Reducing auto emissions is also part of the air quality plan.

"There's also some emphasis on beautification of Main Street and recreating the Main Street feel again — creating that character," she said.

The Rail Runner station plan envisions an area of high activity with landscaped walking trails, bicycle paths, small businesses, entertainment plazas, and commuter apartments where cars are virtually unnecessary. These types of walkable communities are a popular trend.

"There's a big push not just in our community, but in the whole metropolitan area," Ainsworth said. "Albuquerque is really putting an emphasis on that as well, and throughout the nation. If you look at the sheer numbers of traffic that are projected, it makes sense, as well as the changing attitudes in our youth."

Studies show that the generation of people born between 1982 and 2000, or "Generation Y," is the first generation that isn't all that interested in driving, she said.

They want to have access to transit so they can use their electronic devices while commuting.

"They want to be connected to the Internet all the time," she said. "They don't want to have to put down their phone to drive. It's just changing attitudes. The younger people are going to be looking for a different development plan. They want access to transit and higher density living areas."

The plan covers strategies to retain the village's rural charm, protect the environment, protect air quality and take a proactive approach to water security and land use and lists a set of goals and how to implement them.

"Everyone is concerned with making sure that the rural land is protected and that agricultural uses are preserved," Ainsworth said. "That's challenging. If agricultural property owners want their properties to transition, there's not much we can do, but we can direct growth so those areas are protected longer."

Residential and commercial development is also geared to the west side of Interstate 25. The Valencia Regional Medical Center and the west side UNM campus, both to be built next year, are expected to bring new jobs and encourage residential growth, she said.

Some of the safety measures addressed in the plan include hazard mitigation, such as soil cover to reduce dust storms caused by high winds, and working with other local cities to end illegal dumping by implementing the regional solid waste disposal plan.

The plan, developed by the village in partnership with Belen, Socorro and Magdalena, recommends closing private landfills in favor of transfer stations strategically located in the region.

Improved and expanded recycling services are also on the agenda, as well as water conservation.

In 2006, the village adopted a water conservation plan that includes education programs to promote conservation, and building codes that require water conserving plumbing fixtures and appliances.

The drought of the past few years drives home the importance of water planning.

"We've worked very closely with our water consultants on our water management," Ainsworth said. "They've been our consultants for over 20 years, and have worked closely with us on developing our water rights ordinance, and establishing our water needs for the next 40 years. Historically, Los Lunas has been very proactive in acquiring water rights."

Families shopping for a house can use the 2035 Comprehensive Plan to select their neighborhood, and entrepreneurs might find that it's a useful tool to help them find the best location to start their business.

Copies of the plan are available online at loslunasnm.gov on the village website under Community Development Department.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.