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Draft version of Farmington's new comprehensive plan being compiled

City is halfway through process of developing updated vision

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
The City of Farmington hosted Jolt Our Future to talk about the future of the city on Jan. 30 at the Farmington Civic Center.

FARMINGTON — City officials are approaching the halfway point in their effort to produce a new comprehensive plan designed to guide Farmington's progress for the next 20 years.

A draft version of the plan is expected to be produced over the next few months as the city enters phase three of the process, which focuses on strategies and plan development.

According to the schedule posted on the city's website, that phase will last from March through June. The fourth phase will unfold from July to November, when the final version of the plan is expected to be produced and then adopted by the City Council.

Beth Escobar, planning manager for the City of Farmington, said the focus of those overseeing the comprehensive plan development is shifting from concentrating on public input to drafting the plan. City officials have held several public and committee meetings over the past several months to compile input, as well as soliciting opinions through a series of questionnaires posted on the city's website.

The third questionnaire in that series was released in late January, and respondents have until the end of March to respond to it. The document asks respondents to list their priorities for economic development from a list of approximately a dozen areas. It also seeks some personal information, such as age range, whether respondents live in Farmington or just work in the city and other data.

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett talks about the format for the Jolt Our Future event on Jan. 30 at the Farmington Civic Center.

"Those questions are drilling down into some of the comments we've already heard," Escobar said, adding the survey only takes about five minutes to complete. "And there is an opportunity to give detailed comments. In this questionnaire, we're trying to identify what amenities are important to the community."

Escobar said approximately 150 people responded to each of the first two questionnaires.

"As a planner, I would always like to see more (public input), but I'm quite impressed with the amount of responses we've seen so far," she said, adding that more than 200 people showed up for a Jolt Our Future public meeting on the plan at the Farmington Civic Center on Jan. 30.

Escobar said she is new to San Juan County, but she has taken note of the level of civic engagement she has witnessed during her time here.

More:Jolt Our Future examines what lies ahead for Farmington

"What always surprises me about Farmington is the commitment of the people who live here to have a strong community," she said. "They want to make life better and make it better for their kids."

Any changes brought about by the adoption of the new comprehensive plan aren't likely to manifest themselves in a short amount of time, Escobar said.

"Planners think in decades — they don't think in terms of days or weeks," she said.

But she said the city's economic development efforts likely will be guided by the preferences that are identified in the plan. She said she was intrigued by the amount of attention that is being devoted to growing the film industry in San Juan County.

"To me, that's fascinating, and it has such potential to grow and bring new jobs to the community," Escobar said. "That's not something that 20 years ago anyone was talking about."

Members of the audience listen to a presentation about broadband connectivity during Jolt Our Future on Jan. 30 at the Farmington Civic Center.

A summary of the work that has been done through the first two phases of the plan is being compiled now and should be ready for public consumption by the end of March. It will be posted on the 2040 Comprehensive Plan page on the city's website.

A technical advisory committee made up largely of city staff members and department heads, and a steering committee comprised of 60 citizens invited to participate by City Council members have been deeply involved in the process, Escobar said. Those groups meet on a quarterly basis, and they will convene again on March 20 to break down the details of the draft plan.

More:Farmington officials embark on second phase of comprehensive plan update

The next public input session in the process will occur May 23-24 when city officials present elements of the draft plan during Riverfest. The final plan will be unveiled Sept. 5 during the annual Totah Festival.

Work on generating a new comprehensive plan for the city began in July 2019. It marked the first time the plan has been updated since 2002.

Escobar encouraged anyone who has not filled out the third questionnaire to do so. Those who lack computer access or don't want to fill out the survey online are welcome to call her with their comments at 505-599-1285.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/216TU0e