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Durango invests in infrastructure designs ahead of anticipated growth in La Posta area

Affordable housing, industrial businesses among planned uses near southern city limits
The commercial area on La Posta Road (County Road 213) is receiving attention from Durango and La Plata County governments. They agree the city should begin annexing portions of the area in order to install a sewer system and improve the roads and intersections ahead of anticipated future development. (Durango Herald file)

Durango has dedicated $650,000 to infrastructure design plans for development of the La Posta area at the southern edge of city limits.

City councilors approved the funding allocation earlier this month. Now, the city is considering annexing land to speed up development.

About $150,000 will be used to design mainline water and sewer facilities. The rest will be used for road, trail and intersection designs for River Road and La Posta Road (County Road 213), according to city documents.

The city and La Plata County have been eyeing the La Posta area as a site for development since at least 2008, but the funding wasn’t there to take things further.

That’s changed with American Rescue Plan Act funding and the infrastructure bill that passed in November, Scott Shine, the city’s assistant director for community development, said Friday.

A La Posta landowner has also approached the city with mixed commercial, light industrial and residential development ideas. The landowner’s interest has created a bit more urgency for the city to develop the area, Shine said.

The city also views the La Posta area as an opportunity to build affordable housing and create jobs through developments, he said.

Shine said the city and the county have worked closely with La Plata County Economic Development Alliance in determining the best long-term outcome for the La Posta area.

Koshak, a low mesa in the La Posta area, was historically used for ranching before transitioning into residential and light industrial use, according to the city’s and county’s joint La Posta Area Plan, published in 2013. On the upper mesa, Animas Airpark Mesa, light industrial and mixed commercial uses have been the norm, although some residential use is present.

The La Posta area is ideal for commercial and industrial use, Shine said, and the city has heard from industrial businesses in Durango that they want to grow and expand but have found it challenging to do so for lack of suitable land. La Posta would meet their demands.

“We’re starting to really see that at least portions of it (La Posta) should begin to be annexed into the city,” Shine said.

The city is in talks with property owners about what would be appropriate in a Phase 1 of annexation, he said.

Shine said La Posta will need some upgrades to support heavier commercial development, mostly for a sewer system and redesign of roads and intersections.

The city, county and economic alliance already have a conceptual sewer master plan for the area, he said. Now, they are going to pursue construction designs for a sewer system.

Likewise, the city plans to conduct a traffic study based on the projected build-out of the area, and the county has budgeted money to support road improvements, as well, Shine said.

“Once we have those plans and those construction documents in place, the projects will be, in essence, shovel ready,” he said.

The city is reaching out to landowners, considering construction plans with city engineering and re-examining land use in the La Posta area. Its next steps in annexing land will become more clear by the end of summer or by early fall, he said.

Shine said it is exciting that “resources are finally lining up” thanks in large part to federal funding and that the city has heard broad community support for developing the area.

Shine said the city sees it as “a huge step” that city- and county-level elected officials are in agreement that La Posta has potential for growth and that the governments should be investing in its design.

cburney@durangoherald.com

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