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Sandoval County signs Mesa del Sol land swap

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Although the existing Sandoval County landfill has a good 5-to-7 years of use ahead of it, county officials recently completed a land swap with the New Mexico Land Office that should provide for a new site well before any issues arise with the old one.

Monday, in a ceremony at the Mesa del Sol planned business and residential community on the far south side of Albuquerque, the county traded a 2.3-acre parcel that it bought in the development for $525,000 for a 640-acre, $550,000 parcel near Encino Road and the Northwest Loop Road in Sandoval County that will eventually become the new landfill site.

The county plans to turn 500 acres of the acquired land into the landfill, making it significantly larger than the current landfill site, which is 160 acres.

The move is significant for its economic development potential, said Sandoval County Manager Phillip Rios and State Land Commissioner Ray Powell.

“This is really an economic venture,” Powell said.

While the state looks for a business partner to develop the land at Mesa del Sol, the county is counting on doubling the revenue it currently receives annually from the existing landfill, Rios said.

“The opportunity to generate revenue – because it’s an enterprise – is tremendous,” he said. “Right now, we generate on our landfill site, which we only do construction debris and a little bit of household waste, a little more than $3 million year.”

Rios said he can see attracting customers from neighboring communities, like Santa Fe.

“With this one, we’re able to serve the region,” he said. “We’re already talking to Santa Fe and other communities that don’t have it. We expect that, once this land gets permitted, we expect to generate double that amount of revenue.”

The site has already been explored environmentally and historically for its viability, Rios said, and it passed muster on both accounts.

Nevertheless, he said, the permitting process will be the most time-consuming aspect to the site’s development.

“Our biggest issue is going to be the permit, the environmental permit that we’re going to have to go after,” Rios said. “It’s already been investigated. It meets all of the requirements for environmental purposes for a landfill operation because we did a big study on that. Permitting will probably take a year to a year and a half once we start. That will probably run us about $300,000.”

When the county first began exploring options of a land swap, the plan was to find a parcel within the county, Rios said. But when that didn’t work out, the parcel at Mesa del Sol began to become more viable.

And that could actually help the state’s economy, Powell said.

“Our good partners from Sandoval County had a very legitimate and important need for their prospects in the local community and the county, and we were able to find a win-win because of that,” he said.

“We’re going to actively work to find an excellent company, either home grown in New Mexico or from outside, to partner with us that fits this (Mesa del Sol) community and pattern of development to create good, new jobs for New Mexicans,” Powell said.

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