Work on Farmington's comprehensive plan update will resume this week

July 8 Makers Market will be first chance for public to provide input

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Farmington residents will be offered the opportunity to weigh in on a draft version of the city's new comprehensive plan Thursday, July 8 during the Makers Market in Orchard Plaza in downtown Farmington.
  • Farmington last updated its comprehensive plan in 2022.
  • Farmington suspended the process of adopting the new plan in November 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • A final version of the plan likely will be sent to the City Council in September.

FARMINGTON — After suspending progress on the city's new comprehensive plan last year, Farmington officials will resume work on a draft version of the document this week with the first in a series of events designed to solicit public feedback.

Residents will have six opportunities over the rest of the month to weigh in on the proposed plan, which is designed to guide Farmington's development for the next 20 years, focusing on such issues as land use and transportation. Farmington last updated its comprehensive plan in 2022.

Beth Escobar, Farmington's planning manager, said residents will have the chance to examine a presentation on the draft version of the plan and offer their thoughts to city officials at the public events. Farmington suspended the process of adopting the new plan in November 2020 because the COVID-19 pandemic limited such opportunities to virtual gatherings instead of in-person meetings. City officials believed that option was insufficient to generate the kind of feedback they were seeking.

"It's critical," Escobar said of the importance of generating plentiful public response to the plan, explaining that since the plan is supposed to reflect the kind of future Farmington residents want, it needs to have their active participation.

"We can't make these decisions here at the city (without that)," she said. "We need to hear from everyone who lives and works here and contributes to the community."

The first public input opportunity will come at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 8 during the Makers Market in Orchard Plaza at the corner of West Main Street and North Orchard Avenue in downtown Farmington. Others will come during the TGIF concert series at noon on July 16 and July 23 in Orchard Plaza, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the San Juan College food hub on July 16, at the downtown Farmington art walk on July 16, and from noon to 3 p.m. July 31 at the Park Play Day at Sycamore Park in Farmington.

Escobar said other opportunities for the public to provide input probably would be planned, as well.

Farmington residents listen during a public meeting on the city's comprehensive plan update Jan. 30, 2020, at the Farmington Civic Center.

She said the draft version of the plan, which already has been submitted to the City Council, is 89 pages in length. She said much of that material covers the city's history to provide context for the current situation. But she said the rest of the document is highlighted by two particular elements — a future land use map, and a list of community assets and connections that demonstrate how residents interact on a daily basis.

City officials began working on the new plan in July 2019 and contracted with Logan Simpson, a Fort Collins, Colorado-based firm — to help facilitate the process. They originally hoped to have it finished by November 2020. But those plans were scuttled by the pandemic, leading the council to vote in November to suspend the process until public meetings safely could be held again.

More:Farmington chooses to suspend comprehensive plan update amid COVID-19 restrictions

Escobar said once the public comments from the new round of meetings have been compiled and organized, that input will be used to make final modifications to the plan. She said unless there appears to be a large degree of public dissatisfaction expressed to the draft plan during the public comment period, it is likely that only small changes will be made to the document before a final version is completed.

"I anticipate mostly minor modifications," Escobar said, noting that the draft plan underwent a year of public scrutiny before it was produced. "However, if there's not a lot of buy-in, we'll have to make major modifications. The plan has to match the vision Farmington has."

Escobar said city officials charged with developing the new plan have not been idle since November. She said she and other members of the city staff have been working on a plan to implement the specific elements of the plan once it is adopted.

Escobar said she hopes to have the final plan sent to the City Council in September for adoption.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.