UNM Grad Students Receive Learning Opportunity from RAC P&Z Officials



Planning and Zoning Director Lucia Sanchez speaks to UNM students on July 9 during field training in Rio Arriba County. Photo Credit: UNM School of Architecture and Planning

On July 9, University of New Mexico (UNM) graduate students visited the Rio Arriba County (RAC) Planning and Zoning (P&Z) office to learn from professionals about community, urban, rural and regional planning.

According to the class syllabus, students will learn to understand community planning by working with traditional Chicano communities of Northern New Mexico. Students who are taking the course, aptly named Indo-Hispano Rural and Design Field School, will be offering technical assistance to communities in natural resource planning, physical design, and economic development. Specific locations for student visits are the City of Española, the Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, the Abiquiu Reservoir, the Rio Santa Cruz Basin and the Rio Chama Basin, among others. Students focus in on visiting locations, which house community leaders from Acequia and Land Grant communities to attain the best hands-on experience. 

“It was great to have the students visit our office,” said P&Z Director Lucia Sanchez. “Teaching them first-hand about the county’s unique landscape, which is multijurisdictional and how it consists of Acequia and Land Grant communities spurred interesting dialog.  There is no doubt that they were able to better understand how the County supports mindful development by promoting realistic land use policies based on accepted planning methods.”

“For us it’s a pleasure that the New Mexico School of Architecture could collaborate with the RAC P&Z Department to explore economic development opportunities for the region,” said UNM Course Professor Moises Gonzales. “In the field we can look at such things as GIS or statistical data and develop additional, efficient strategies areas in which we can explore and present to entities like the County.”

According to Sanchez, the planning team was able to speak to students about the department’s process and history in creating County ordinances and policies. To view a listing of county ordinances, go to www.rio-arriba.org and click “planning and zoning” under “departments.”

-Erika L. Martinez, July 2013