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FARMINGTON – Aztec could soon see a fifth auto parts store in a town of about 7,000 people.

A developer is working to construct an O'Reilly Auto Parts location on an empty parcel of land on the corner of West Aztec Boulevard and Ash Street, across the highway from AutoZone. During a meeting Tuesday, the City Commission unanimously approved a measure to make nearly $100,000 of infrastructure improvements that will help Hutton Team LLC construct the business.

Keith Cox, the district manager of O'Reilly's Automotive Inc., said the timeline is not set for when the business could be built. He said the Aztec location is one of the possible developments the company is looking at in San Juan County.

It is not uncommon for O'Reilly to build locations across from AutoZone. In Bloomfield, the O'Reilly businesses is located across the street from AutoZone. Mark Merz, the director of external reporting and industrial relations for O'Reilly, said the two companies choose locations based on similar criteria, including an analysis of traffic patterns and how easy it will be for the parts to be delivered.

Mike Snead, the opening manager at AutoZone in Aztec, said the store does not consider O'Reilly to be its competition and will actually refer customers to O'Reilly when it does not have the parts the customer is looking for.

Snead said AutoZone has known about the plan for an O'Reilly location to be built nearby for a couple of years.

When the developer realized the construction costs would be more than the original estimates, it approached the city for funding assistance. Due to the state's anti-donation clause, the city was unable to provide direct financial assistance for the project, but it can help develop infrastructure by installing a 6-inch water line, an electrical service line and a retention pond on the property.

This is the second time that Aztec has approved spending money on infrastructure improvements to help spur development, City Manager Josh Ray said during the commission meeting. In 2012, the city approved spending nearly $250,000 on infrastructure improvements that helped a developer build the Microtel Inn & Suites.

The parcel of land that the developer is hoping to build on is 5.4 acres and will be subdivided. A road will be built during the process to provide access to the additional lots that will be created during the subdividing. That could provide opportunities for future businesses to locate in that area.

Only a handful of businesses have been built in Aztec in the last six years. Ray said the infrastructure improvements could help encourage more development by creating additional land where businesses can be built and by making it easier to expand the utilities to the adjacent parcels.

The possibility of more business development was one of the main factors influencing the commission's vote.

“I think it’s a good investment for three parcels,” Commissioner Katee McClure said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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