Kirtland looks to add new land, auto store

Brett Berntsen
An O'Reilly Auto Parts store is under construction at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 64 and County Road 6536 in Kirtland.

FARMINGTON – Business development set the theme of Kirtland's Town Council meeting last week, as trustees discussed the construction of a new O’Reilly Auto Parts store, as well as ongoing plans to annex commercial properties into the newly founded municipality.

Mayor Mark Duncan said property owners are still signing petitions for the planned annexation, which would encompass a branch of San Juan College, the county-run River View Golf Course and multiple industrial businesses along U.S. Highway 64.

Kirtland was incorporated as its own town in January 2015 and is experiencing typical growing pains.

“We don’t have any money,” Duncan said. “Our tax base is very small.”

The expansion will allow Kirtland to collect more gross receipts taxes, which are levied on entities conducting business within a municipality.

Duncan said the annexation will also provide Kirtland with an opportunity to connect its sewer system with outlying residences and industrial sites. The annexation process remains underway, and Duncan gave no timeline for its completion.

“We’re taking it very slow,” Duncan said. “This is the first time for us.”

The arrival of a new O’Reilly Auto Parts store could be one sign of growth for the town. Once completed, it will be the sixth O’Reilly location in San Juan County and the second auto parts store in Kirtland.

The project already has received approval from San Juan County, and construction on the building has begun. Duncan said town trustees simply discussed parking lot paving and water runoff concerns related to the project. He said the state highway department still needs to build a retention pond to control water runoff.

The town also has asked the business to extend pavement throughout the entire parking lot.

Any requests, however, were presented with a light touch.

“We want to welcome them,” Duncan said. “We want to stay out their hair.”

Brett Berntsen covers government for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.