After weeks of review, members of the El Paso City Council have decided, on a 5 to 3 vote, to approve the creation of a new tax increment reinvestment zone that will take in nearly 5,000 acres of land near the scenic Franklin Mountains.
The creation of the zone is designed to open the way for the possible construction of up to 9,400 housing units, as well as 829,000 square feet of commercial space.
Members of the council in support of the zone designation say it will allow the City of El Paso to collect tax revenue that then will be used to build utility infrastructure, streets, sidewalks, and sewers.
According to city documents, roughly 33 percent of the revenues generated by the zone would go for infrastructure work, with the remaining 66 percent reverting to the city’s general fund.
But opponents of the zone idea say the proposed development could negatively impact the nearby Lost Dog Trailhead, which leads to the western part of the Franklin Mountains State Park and is greatly valued by walkers and joggers.
Those opponents have since announced that they intend to launch a drive to gather signatures from area residents that will subsequently be submitted to the council demanding the removal of the zone.
To date, no particular developer has been identified for the eventual construction of the mixed-use project, which would be confined to only some 750 acres within the zone.
Council members are expected to meet later this month to go over the mechanics of how the zone will be implemented.
By Garry Boulard