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City discusses development of Old Municipal Airport land

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Alison Penn Photo Planning Manager Bill Morris presents the proposed redirection of West Eighth Street where it intersects with North Sycamore Avenue. Morris said the intention is to create a “gooseneck” to connect the two Eighth Streets which will be determined after an engineering review. City Councilors Savino Sanchez, Judy Stubbs, and Barry Foster listen to the presentation with City Attorney Aaron Holloman at Legal Committee on Monday afternoon at City Hall.

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The city sets its sites on developing the Old Municipal Airport and surrounding land.

The Old Municipal Airport (OMA) is the area between Sycamore Avenue and Montana Avenue and extends between Eighth and 19th streets. The Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center is being built near Cielo Grande Recreation Area, soon to be built New Mexico Department of Game & Fish regional office and Noon Optimist Park. The Immanuel Lutheran Church, Masonic Temple, Cielo Grande Veterinary Center and Roswell Fire Department Station 6 are located on the west end of College Boulevard and Sycamore Avenue.

College Boulevard and Nevada Avenue will divide the OMA land into four quadrants with a roundabout in the center. The Spring River Luxury Apartments and new storage options have been built near Gateway Christian School and Christ’s Church.

At Legal Committee on March 22, Planning Manager Bill Morris said for the last year and half the city has been considering and working toward to text amendments to the zoning codes. Morris also said this topic of zoning codes and the development of the Old Municipal Airport will be a series of discussions that will lead to an action item for Roswell’s City Council to vote on at a later date.

Graphic courtesy of the City of Roswell
The Old Municipal Airport (OMA) land is the area between Sycamore Avenue and Montana Avenue and extends between Eighth and 19th streets. The Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center is being built near the Cielo Grande Recreation Area. Planning Manager Bill Morris shared this map with the potential zoning districts at Legal Committee on March 22.

“The genesis of this particular batch of text amendments is to address implementation of a new potential master plan out at the Old Municipal Airport,” Morris said. “It will allow for the close integration of all of these uses as something that we want to encourage in this particular area.”

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Morris said the city has noticed the entire area was zoned R-1 (residential one) and the intention was to fill the space in with more lots. To develop this area, Morris said the city will need to establish in the zoning code five new needed districts. These districts are the RVL (residential very low district), RL (residential low district), an institutional district, MXP (mixed-use plaza) district, and P-R for parks and recreation district. There are some existing institutional and commercial districts.

Morris said the development of the Game and Fish Headquarters on 16 acres on the north side of the area has shown the city the need for the institutional districts that can be used for social functions, governmental, universities, etc. On the northwest side, the land is planned to for mixed-use plaza where townhouses are an option.

At legal committee on Monday, Morris discussed OMA as a non-action item regarding the southwest corner where the “Eighth streets” are separated by 150 feet and how the city intends to redirect the offset, which means the cars exit at two different angles.

“That’s a terrible offset,” Morris said. “It’s very dangerous. There’s no stacking that is permitted really going on Eighth Street if you are northbound and you want to go westbound — there really isn’t any room there. That also applies to going eastbound if you are coming out of the south. Morris said the city is planning on connecting the two streets after analysis of traffic speeds and capacity by creating a box culvert, which Morris said would be the easiest option over the arroyo.

“This is a dangerous situation — especially when OMA takes off and it will take off. As all of this area develops, (it) increases the amount of traffic.”

Morris said ideally intersections should be far apart and preferably at a 90-degree angle. At this moment, Morris said there are two property owners, Church of the Nazarene and a private owner, where the city intends to put in the redirection. The private owner has not responded to the city, so Morris said this plan will require eminent domain to obtain the land. Morris said negotiations will continue with the church and the attempts to reach the private owner will continue.

Councilor Foster asked if the city will take the whole area or a partial section.

“From a legal standpoint, his is a pretty classic example of what you use the eminent domain for,” City Attorney Aaron Holloman said. “Basically it is the government — well the city coming in to say, ‘We have a public purpose that needs to serve the greater good. We need your land in order to be able to do this. We will take what we can that serves the greater good. We have to pay you for it.’”

Holloman said the city will need an appraisal and survey for the land to move forward, along with an engineering review.

Stubbs asked if property taxes were paid on the property and Holloman said it looked like they were. Holloman also said two different departments have sent out letters to the owner. Morris said it is rumored that the property owner had passed.

Councilor Sanchez asked about a traffic signal and Morris replied the city will see if a $500,000 mast arm pole is needed. Morris said a roundabout is also under consideration for the intersection.

“At this point, we are just trying to get the property in our possession so we can start to do proper planning for it in that intersection,” Morris said. “It has to be fixed.”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

 

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