Town leaders returned from the League of Cities and Towns' annual conference last week and decried with a certain degree of smugness that Payson is "ahead of the curve" in managing growth.
And in many ways they're right.
For several years now, town officials have systematically created regulations that place the burden of development squarely on the shoulders of new residents and developers. State leaders told local officials to create development impact fees to make new residents pay for the police, street and park services they will require.
We've already got them.
Create a communitywide zoning plan, they said, to help protect open spaces and wisely direct new development.
We've got that, too.
Consider developing a conservative water-management policy, they said, that makes home builders and developers find new water, or, in some cases, pay a hefty water impact fee.
We're way ahead of them.
But just a few days after our leaders returned triumphant from the conference, representatives of Phoenix Logistics, a Valley electronics firm, and the best economic development prospect the town has had in several years, announced they couldn't secure enough land here at a price they could afford. Their plans to relocate to Payson are on hold.
Town leaders did everything they could to make the deal work, and state involvement soured the matter, but it goes to show how complicated good, solid community management really is.
Managing growth isn't just about improving the quality of development or slowing housing starts.
It's also about attracting high-paying businesses to the area for the workers of the community. It's about stimulating housing-cost diversity so people of all income levels can afford to live here.
In those areas, we're painfully behind the curve. It's time we caught up.