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District 2 Newsletter - March 4, 2016

Hello Neighbors,

This edition of my newsletter begins with a statement about the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project and information about the proposed Edith Transfer Station.  Our regular items follow.

Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART)

I’ve always supported high capacity, high quality public transit;  I support a modern and balanced transportation system that doesn’t require working people to be dependent upon a car or to use substandard service.   ART  will be far more effective than Rapid Ride and will serve two of the lowest-income areas of the city, the SW Mesa and the International District.  It was been planned in conjunction with the Regional Transit District’s north-south BRT project for University Blvd.

I support this investment of a large federal grant plus other federal funds and a lesser match of local street and transit funds, which will help rebuild outdated infrastructure on Central Avenue in the historic center of the city.  It would be a shame to reject this large infusion of Federal funds at a time when our economy is in the tank.

Ten years ago Martin Heinrich and I co-sponsored the previous administration’s bill to build a modern streetcar system. Sadly, that effort was narrowly shot down by a previous Council.  Many opponents then had little understanding of the potential to revitalize the historic center.  Many did not live in the area served by the project and thus objected to any expenditure of public funds that did not directly benefit them or their neighborhood.  Others opposed it simply because they didn’t like Mayor Chavez.  Although all street projects are difficult for business owners, many didn’t want to suffer through the construction period.

Now I hear much of the same discussion. 

I fully agree with those who speak of the need for better regular bus service and better connections.  However, there is no large federal grant offered for improving regular bus service.  That must be done with our existing available transit funding and our willingness to tax ourselves.  It should also be understood that these capital funds for transit cannot be used for social services, APD or other general purposes.

Read my full statement online.  Learn more about the project and get answers to frequently asked questions at the

Edith Transfer Station Zoning Appeals (AC-15-6 and AC-15-7

In November, the Environmental Planning Commission (EPC) approved the City’s zone change request for the proposed Edith Transfer Station.  Several neighborhood groups appealed this decision and the appeal was referred to City Council’s Land Use Hearing Officer (LUHO) for a hearing in January.  The LUHO makes recommendations to Council on land use appeals.  The LUHO in this matter has recommended that the City Council remand the case to the EPC for further examination and consideration of issues raised in the appeal. 

This appeal will be on the agenda for City Council’s March 7 meeting. The action at Council will be to accept or reject the LUHO’s recommendation.  No testimony or public comment is allowed for this type of hearing.  Council will decide, based on the record, whether to accept the LUHO’s recommendation and remand the case to the EPC or to reject the recommendation and hold a full hearing at a later date. 

Land use appeals are quasi-judicial process.  This means that Councilors must refrain from ex-parte communication regarding the case with any of the parties and the general public; such discussions could be grounds for recusal from the vote.  For this reason, I cannot respond to emails or phone calls related to the appeal.

For additional information about the proposed Transfer Station, visit the project web page:

Legislation of Interest

  • Open Space Acquisition R-16-12: Over the past year, the Council has been taking a strong look at our Open Space system including its oversight and use of available resources.  This bill is part of that effort, which also includes a state legislative capital request.  Read the Albuquerque Journal article and editorial on R-16-12.  A new version was substituted at the Land Use Planning & Zoning (LUPZ) and deferred to the next LUPZ meeting on Wednesday, March 16.

Upcoming Events & Meetings

Community Announcements

The draft of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive is available on the project website, There is a deadline of March 11th for public review and comment, however comments will be accepted by staff up until the time of adoption. Comments can be submitted via e-mail to the project team at [email protected].

Module 1 of the Integrated Development Ordinance, which proposes new zones, the land uses allowed, and associated use-specific standards is available on the project website for review. Module 2, which includes dimensional standards for building heights, setbacks, landscaping, parking requirements, etc. will be available for public review in mid-March. There will be public meetings in April to review the content of Module 2 - stay tuned for dates.

The Greater Albuquerque Recreational Trails Committee has three vacancies: At-Large East of the Rio Grande, Runners and Joggers, Physically Challenged – apply online!

The District 2 position on the Library Advisory Board  is vacant.  Please send a letter of interest and qualifications to [email protected].

Project Updates

  • Projects List
  • Highland Park Renovation:  This project will bid for construction this spring with construction expected to begin by summer.
  • Rio Grande Boulevard Complete Street Concept Plan (south of I-40):  There will be a public meeting on Thursday, March 10th at 6:00 pm to review the design concepts for Rio Grande Boulevard. The meeting will be held in the Council Committee Room, Suite 9081 in City Hall.
  • Sawmill/Wells Park Area Traffic Plan:  The consultant is designing proposed improvements to 12th Street between I-40 and Mountain Road, informed by many years of public meetings and studies, including the sector plan transportation amendments adopted last year.  A public meeting will be held to present the plan in late spring/early summer. 

Isaac Benton
City Councilor, District 2

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