A map showing the location of TA-36, TA-70 and TA-71 in relation to the community of White Rock. Image Courtesy Los Alamos County
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County Council has asked the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration to transfer some 3,074 acres southwest of White Rock to the County for housing, retail, mixed-use, industrial and recreational purposes. A paragraph at the end of last week’s update on “county development” by Los Alamos County Councilor Sara Scott was published by local media noted the request.
Although it is no secret that the Council has desired additional land transfers from DOE and that that concept has been discussed in connection with the shortage of affordable housing in the County, there has been no discussion of the specifics of the request made to DOE/NNSA in a December 10 letter. The 20-page proposal was prepared by County Manager Harry Burgess’s office and a subcommittee of the Council known as the Land Use Committee (Councilors Scott, Randy Ryti and James Robinson) was primarily involved in the proposal’s review before it was sent to DOE/NNSA. The request was mentioned in Scott’s “state of the county” report and in Burgess’s annual report on the County’s website, but specific details were not included.
The land transfer if approved would mean the County would take over LANL Technical Areas 36, 70 and 71. The area in question is south of State Route 4 and west of Pajarito Acres. The decision to ask for the three technical areas names has never been on a Council agenda for approval prior to submission to DOE/NNSA.
The proposal states that the County intends to focus on the development of commercial, retail, mixed use and industrial uses in TA-36, with the emphasis on new housing in TA-70 and TA-71. The County estimates that the current sewer, water, roadways and other public infrastructure can accommodate a population of 25,000 compared to the current population of 18,700. The County also believes the development will reduce stress on the local road system.
The proposal notes that topographical challenges exist in the 3,000 acres and that the portions that could be used for housing, commercial and industrial needs would be about 275 acres. The remainder would be used for necessary infrastructure (schools, roadways and utility development) and open space/recreational uses.
An initial analysis of potential development is provided in the proposal. It includes 230 acres for housing with one-third reserved for affordable housing. Some 80 acres would be high-density housing with approximately 20 units per acre for a total of ~1600 units. About 150 acres would be used for single family detached housing with approximately eight dwellings per acre.
Thirty five acres would be reserved for commercial use which would include lodging of 100 rooms on three acres, retail on two acres, with offices and other businesses including subcontractors, LANL support facilities on another 30 acres.
Ten acres would be reserved for “Laboratory Mission and Operational Needs” and could facilitate “relocation of these functions/facilities outside the secure areas of the Laboratory”.
“This would free up space within the secure LANL campus for new or expanded missions. In addition, these functions/facilities could be developed to benefit LANL employees, their families and the broader community,” the proposal states.
Examples given include the badging office, warehousing, cafeteria and wellness center facilities.
The proposal indicates that the balance of the acreage would be for public use for “ancillary needs including school expansion and expanded recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking and other types of open space activities.
The conclusion of the proposal indicates that the County believes that the conveyance of the property is directly related to the County’s economic development and economic diversification activities and would enable significant and meaningful use of and redevelopment of DOE property which will benefit the residents of the County and the region.
“The County is encouraged by the fact that NNSA has expressed a willingness to cooperate with the County on this transfer. NNSA has previously indicated that it would be open to reevaluating the availability of its property as the Laboratory needs evolve,” it states.