Belen is connecting its airport with the rest of the city by annexing Camino de Llano and the land along the road west of the Best Western Motel.

“We own the airport, but it just hadn’t ever been annexed,” said Belen Mayor Ronnie Torres. “Since I took office, I have said. if it is our land, it needs to be annexed. It’s taken two years to get the survey done and paperwork finished.”

The new city limits will include the 143 acres of the airport, 10 acres of New Mexico Travertine and 34 acres of city land that includes the city’s water tank.

“Instead of having part of the area along Camino de Llano in the city and part of it outside the city, it will all be inside the city limits,” said Julie Baca, city planning and zoning director.

“Back in 1985, the city annexed Tract 6, which is south of Camino de Llano. Through the years, pieces of property in Tract 5 have been annexed. Now we are annexing the remainder of Tract 5.”

Prior to this annexation, Camino de Llano was maintained by the county.

“We have included an 80-foot right-of-way in the annexation, from the bottom of the hill to the top, so, if we have to stabilize the land or widen the road, we can,” Baca said.

In other action, the council approved:

  • Changing the zoning of 1000 West Chavez Avenue from residential to commercial.

Rio Abajo Lodge No. 17 occupies the property. It made the request to allow it to open a public restaurant that will serve soul food.

Kenneth Sandlin of C.C. Back Inc., which will run the business, said the restaurant will be open Friday and Saturday nights at first, and may expand its hours if business requires it.

“The lodge members are all stockholder in C.C. Back Inc. The profits from the restaurant will go to support the lodge,” Sandlin said.

“This location has been a lodge for 30 years and has had a private club on it, but it has never been zoned commercial,” said Raul Sedillo, city attorney.

“We want to do it right,” said Sandlin, regarding changing the zoning to commercial.

  • Accepting East Lopez Road between the former Ford dealership and Calvary Chapel Rio Grande Valley for dedication and maintenance.

“Casey Luna Ford maintained this road after it was put in to service Wal-Mart and the dealership,” said Baca. “Now, with the school district purchasing the dealership land, they are asking us if we would accept maintenance of the road.”

Since the road is a public right-of-way, Baca advised that the city should be maintaining it.

During reports from the mayor, city council and city manager, each councilor complimented the city employees for the success of this year’s first Hub City Music Fest on May 11.

“During the Middle Rio Grande Council of Government (MRGCOG) executive council meeting here on May 10, members of the council were surprised to see the carnival set up,” Councilor Terese Ulivarri said. “They wanted to know how we got a carnival to come to town. They said they had tried and had had no luck.”

Torres reported that he received compliments from the MRGCOG mayors when they came to town for a meeting.

“Martin Chavez (Albuquer-que’s mayor) was very complimentary of our town,” Torres said. “He said ‘What a wonderful place to live. This is a nice, clean town.’ That really pleased me.”

In her report, City Manager Sally Garley’s said:

  • “I would like to express my sincere thanks to my staff for the professional presentations they made at the annual retreat with our city officials on Friday, May 17.”
  • “The Al Seery project is scheduled for advertisement on June 4, with a proposed award date of July 15. The project will consist of street paving improvements, extension of water and sewer, curb, gutter and drainage improvements.”
  • “The Garcia project is under way, with the completion scheduled for late June. The residents in the area have been very patient, and we do appreciate their cooperation.”
  • “The EPA Dallas office has received the Congressional appropriation of $900,000 and the application has been forwarded to the city for completion.”
  • Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is scheduled to be in Belen on May 29 at 4 p.m. and “would like to meet with us.”
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Jane Moorman