'The bridge is only part of the puzzle'

  • Alicia Aguilar

    J.T. Thomas

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Alicia Aguilar is a real estate agent and Valencia County commissioner:

"When I first came into office, we were one of the fastest growing counties in the state and I didn't see any planning going on. Bernalillo County had tightened its regulations on mobile homes, and all that development had moved to Valencia County. We had mobile homes coming in, even in the evenings, going up all over the place. They'd go 500-600 feet with extension cords to get electricity. In some places, the sewage just went on the ground. Development was going up everywhere. It was just out of hand.

"Our zoning ordinance is now one of the strictest in the state. In the valley, everything must be two-acre minimum. You can't build on quarter-acre lots, and that protects the farmland, it protects the rural character. Growth management now has some teeth. But there's an extent that we can only go to because of our authority.

"The Chamber of Commerce was saying, 'Development is coming, you need a bridge.' But a bridge will bring people to the county, and the county gets only 29 cents out of every dollar of property taxes, and has to provide road maintenance, sheriff and fire protection. You have developers and subdividers and they're looking at the effects it will have on their property. But the bridge is only part of the puzzle. Where are you going to take the trash? We don't even have a landfill.

"I'm not saying let's stop growth, but let's manage it wisely."

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