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Background

Fort Bliss extends from El Paso County, Texas, through southern New Mexico, and is more than 1.12 million acres in size. While the main cantonment area lies entirely within El Paso, the majority of the post's training ranges lie in New Mexico. Ensuring the continued presence of Fort Bliss in the region is an effort requiring partnerships across multiple governments and business groups, namely Team Bliss. Team Bliss includes Fort Bliss, the City of El Paso, the local school districts, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Texas Department of Transportation, among many others.

The expansion of Fort Bliss will ultimately add an additional 55,000 soldiers and family members to the El Paso region by 2013 and increase the population of the El Paso region by approximately 10 percent. The capacity of the El Paso community to absorb the increased population was an important factor in planning for growth. The City of El Paso, acting as the regional growth coordinator, finalized the development of the Regional Growth Management Plan (RGMP) in October 2009. The RGMP was developed through a concerted effort that gathered many resources, concerns, and suggestions from many regional stakeholders. The RGMP quantified the growth effects requiring action in order to maintain the stability of the region and it contained an Action Plan with a list of critical action steps for the community and its leaders to endorse.

Community Response

The major recommendation coming out of the Regional Growth Management Plan (RGMP) was the need for a rewrite of the city's Comprehensive Plan. This rewrite addresses the 8,000 multi-family unit housing shortage coupled with a plan that addresses the future land uses surrounding Fort Bliss. Numerous other recommendations from the RGMP are being incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan. A very active citizen and stakeholder participation process was conducted in the development of the rewrite, with more than 1,000 residents (including Fort Bliss personnel at various levels), more than 100 different meetings with various stakeholders, and 15 separate public meetings. This process has resulted in the following products:

  1. Future Land Use Map. This helps coordinate future land uses in the region with a special focus on multi-family zones and developments including more sustainable land use policies.
  2. Identification and subsidization of land suitable for development to meet the multi-family housing demand. The El Paso City Council has approved a total of $55 million in subsidies for three Smart Code projects, all of which were identified as part of the Future Land Use Mapping process. The Smart Code is a development code that encourages walkable and mixed-use neighborhoods by focusing on the design standards of buildings and streets.
  3. Economic Impact Study. Program goals, development strategies, and economic impact studies are included to help determine the best courses of action along with the needed financial resources.
  4. REMI (Regional Economic Modeling, Inc.) Projections Report. These updated projections take into account the military growth, projected population and employment growth, and increase in housing units.
  5. Zoning and Subdivision Codes. Necessary changes were made to zoning and subdivision codes facilitating multi-family housing.

The following additional studies will complete the Comprehensive Plan rewrite: Major Thoroughfare Plan, Transportation Impact Assessment, Mass Transit/Rapid Transit System Study, and an update to the regional housing market study with 2010 census data.

To view the community's 2009 Mission Growth Profile, click here.

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