State's Growth-Control Proposals Don't Apply Here, Town Officials Say

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There's a lot of concern in the state regarding growth, said Payson Town Council member Ray Schum.


Schum and other council members and Town of Payson department heads were among 900 state and local officials representing 87 cities and towns around the state at the League of Cities and Towns Annual Conference in Oro Valley Sept. 7-10.


They listened to Gov. Jane Dee Hull talk about her statewide plan, "Growing Smarter in Arizona: improving the way we grow."


"Payson is already ahead of the curve," Schum said Monday. "We have a land-use plan that is the point of beginning of the governor's 'Growing Smarter.'"


Schum said he also heard how growth has to pay for itself and how towns and cities need to initiate impact fees. "We're so far ahead of the curve in this area," he said.


Schum said he found that Payson is already in compliance with the things he went to the conference to find out about.


"The town is really well managed," he said.


Town Manager Rich Underkofler said two growth management plans were presented at conference, the governor's plan, which will go to the Arizona State Legislature, and the Sierra Club's Boundary Line initiative, which is being circulated for a statewide ballot. The Sierra Club's proposal restricts development on private and State Trust lands outside an established boundary.


"The initiative promoted by the Sierra Club would apply uniformly across Arizona rather than work differently in different areas," Underkofler said. "The governor recommends a case-by-case approach. In Payson's case, the urban boundary doesn't apply. We already have the national forest as a boundary."


Underkofler further described the open space preservation issues in both proposals, and said, "In Payson's case, that doesn't make sense either. We have large lot zoning requirements and open space is preserved on private property.


"I think we're tackling these issues on a local level and don't need the state to tell us what to do."


Schum described the League of Cities and Towns as "a giant lobbying group representing cities and towns at the state level. They have this conference every year and they decide positions they will take to the state."


He said Rep. Jake Flake is one of many of the state's legislators who listen when the League speaks. Flake was one of 17 state legislators who were recognized at the conference for their continued support of local government and municipal policies.


According to a press release from the League of Cities and Towns, Flake and the other legislators were also commended for their support in maintaining cities' and towns' portions of the state shared revenue.


"There are always movements to take money away from cities, towns and counties in one form or another," Underkofler said.

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