Supercenter Construction Penciled For Late Spring

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Wal-Mart has set a late-spring starting date on construction of its Supercenter on the North Beeline Highway.

Construction of the Supercenter, which was scheduled for the first of the year, was put on hold while the company worked through some water issues with the town, said Wal-Mart spokesman Cynthia Lin.

The Town Council has taken steps to see that Payson residents get what they voted for in last spring's zoning referendum for the Supercenter. The new store is to be located on 20 acres across from Payson Town Hall.

At a Jan. 14 meeting, the council took up an issue which has kept the project on hold: the establishment of a more equitable method for estimating Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) and for calculating water fees.

"Wal-Mart indicated to us that they don't want to put up the funds if they don't know what they're going to have to pay," said Town Attorney Sam Streichman.

Council member Jack Monschein reminded the council that the people voted for the Wal-Mart zoning.

"I would hate for us to sit up here and lose something that the people here voted for overwhelmingly," he said. "If we keep this up, what we've been doing the last few months, we might not get a Wal-Mart."

Streichman has been ordered by the council to draft an amendment to establish a more equitable method for calculating water development fees.

"It would mean a project could come in with a 20 ERU project and end up using 25," he said. "They could pay the difference instead of bringing in the water."

Currently, if a development is expected to use 20 residential units' worth of water or more, the developer must find a source of water for the project. For projects of less than 20 ERU, the developer can pay the town impact fees instead.

But Mayor Vern Stiffler had an objection to revising the water impact fee policy. "I don't like to see a single exception like Wal-Mart drive the town code," he said.

Council voted 5-2, with Stiffler and Vice Mayor Ray Schum dissenting, to proceed with the proposal for a new fee schedule. The motion included an amendment to provide for a refund if the actual water use in peak demand months is less than estimated.

The clarification of water development fees may have opened the way for construction of the proposed Supercenter and with it, future employment opportunities for the town.

Wal-Mart's Lin said construction at the new site should present some employment opportunities for local contractors. "Usually we bring on a general contractor and then sub out the work," Lin said.

"We're, hopefully, planning to open in the beginning of the year 2,000."

Not for sale
For those who may be wondering about the "for sale" sign by Wal-Mart's property, it has nothing to do with the proposed Supercenter.

"The land (7.5 acres) doesn't belong to us and we have not heard of anybody taking that piece," Lin said.

According to another Wal-Mart official at the company's corporate office, Supercenters usually require about 15 acres of land.

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