Cannon growth plan implementation discussed

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

A plan for how the community should respond to potential growth at Cannon Air Force Base was approved Monday morning at a joint meeting of the Local Growth Management Organization and Local Growth Management Committee at Clovis City Hall.

Members also agreed to discuss implementation further and to consult with experts on how best to go about it.

Albuquerque-based Keystone International consultants compiled the Regional Growth Management Plan in an effort to anticipate and plan for the impact of growth at Cannon on the community, particularly in terms of housing, schools and healthcare.

Officials have said the base is expected to add 3,400 to 5,700 personnel by 2015.

The study cost $562,775, with the bulk paid by the federal government. Local communities contributed about $56,000.

With the plan approved, discussion moved to what to do with it.

Several members, including committee Chairwoman Gayla Brumfield, said they would like to see further discussion and work begin toward implementation of the plan.

Members talked of researching what other communities have done to implement similar plans and discussed the possibility of hiring someone who would answer to the local communities and be tasked with overseeing implementation.

Col. Babette Lenfant, Special Operations Wing Mission Support Group commander, also gave members in the meeting a presentation on Cannon’s concerns regarding Curry Road R.

The road’s proximity to the west perimeter of the base is a security and encroachment concern, she said.

Additionally, land on the west side of the road is a concern because it lies within critical safety zones set for low-flying aircraft, she said.

Lenfant told the group the base is working with Curry County to resolve the issues.

One possible resolution is to close Curry Road R and pave another nearby road to eliminate the issues all together, she said.

To do so would also eliminate issues with a railroad crossing near military housing. Base officials have said the train whistles, as many as 300 a day, are disruptive to residents.

The biggest challenge to closing the road and paving another is funding, Lenfant said, which the county is seeking.