Aztec business HUB looks to open this summer

Hannah Grover
Bob Ramsey of Ramsey Realty looks out the window of a building at 119 E. Chuska St. in Aztec on Dec. 16 where a new business incubator will be located.

FARMINGTON – While the city of Aztec is preparing to open its HUB, or business incubator, this summer, several nearby residents are concerned about how the venture could impact their neighborhood in the future.

Some residents fear the city could change the zoning of the property and, if the city does not continue operating the HUB at that location, other businesses could locate there later. That could have a negative impact on property values, they fear. Nearby resident Tricia Banry expressed concerns during a Tuesday City Commission meeting that that the potential rezoning could lead to increased traffic, a lack of parking and increased litter.

Banry said the property currently acts as a buffer between downtown, which is zoned commercial limited, and the residential properties on Church Avenue and Chuska Street. While the nearby properties are zoned office, they are primarily used as single-family residences.

Banry, who lives near the building on Church Street, presented a petition Tuesday asking the City Commission to deny the zoning change for the building located at 119 S. Church Ave. and 119 E. Chuska St. Because of concerns that not all neighboring property owners were notified of the land use hearing to change the zoning of the property, the city planning department withdrew the request during the Tuesday commission meeting. A new zoning change request will be submitted to the commission later this year.

The zoning change from office to commercial limited would allow more flexibility as far as what kinds of businesses could be based at the HUB. Some of the activites allowed in commercial limited are retail and service establishments such as bakeries, barber shops and drug stores.

City Planner Bil Homka told commissioners Tuesday that the current proposed use of the building would not necessitate changes in zoning. Instead, Homka said the zoning change is being sought in anticipation of possible future businesses that may want to locate inside the HUB.

Homka said the city had two reasons for changing the zoning — awareness and flexibility.

"We wanted to alert the adjoining neighbors that the city is involved in this," he said when reached by phone Wednesday.

One future business that is looking at locating at the HUB is 550 Brewing, which is hoping to turn the back of the building accessed from Chuska Street into a taproom. The owners of the brewery declined to comment while the zoning issue is still being debated.

Homka said this will be one of three parts of the building. The front section, located off of Church Avenue, will house the Aztec Chamber of Commerce, as well as an area for members to meet and access resources. There will also be three offices upstairs that people can rent.

In addition to offices, a taproom and the HUB area, the building also will have an outdoors market area. Homka said the vision is that there will be weekly markets on weekends.

While residents have expressed concerns about the zoning change, Homka said residents primarily have been supportive of the business incubator.

"It brings business to downtown," he said.

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