Proposed changes in how subdivisions are built in hilly areas have been passed on to the Payson Town Council following a split vote by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Planning and Zoning Commissioners Robert Flibotte and Richard Wolfe voted against the hillside development ordinance Monday, but the vote was 4-2 in favor of recommending the ordinance to the council. Commissioner Howard Ray was not present at the 4 p.m. public hearing.
Community Development Director Bob Gould told the commission that the applicability of the ordinance could be to address density only or create a standard for density and development.
"If it is not above a 15 percent slope, they'll go with the normal development standards that we have in the UDC now," Gould told the commissioners.
The purpose of the amendment to the Unified Development Code is to address slope stability, access, fire protection and resource preservation for properties with steeper slopes.
The ordinance applies to all land with a slope of 15 percent or greater which is more than half the total land area of the lot. On slopes of 30 percent or more, a single unit will require four acres of property.
During Monday's public hearing, real estate agent Bob McQueen told the commissioners that he was concerned with what is happening in Payson.
"Building permits are down by 20 percent," he said. "This is rapidly becoming the Vail of Arizona. The majority of people in this room, in just a few years, will not be able to buy a house in Payson."
McQueen said density should not be a controlling factor in hillside development. "I think we should look at design," he said.
Flibotte echoed McQueen's arguments.
"We have other ordinances which set limits. I'm deeply concerned with the future lands of the town," he said.
He said that only the very wealthy will be able to afford property in Payson.
"I think it is wrong to tie in the hillside ordinance to density," he said.
Flibotte said he liked every aspect of the hillside ordinance but the density issue.
Also on the agenda at the Planning and Zoning meeting was a request for a zoning change for 5.28 acres of land east of North Chaparral Pines Drive for a proposed nine lots for Greyfox subdivision.
The request met with opposition from a number of residents on North Chaparral Pines Drive who had purchased property that was zoned with a minimum of two acres.
The commissioners denied the request by a 6-0 vote.
They unanimously approved a request by Stone Creek Subdivision for conditional use permits for 20 model homes to be located on lots that have been cleared at West Longhorn Road.