Proposed Development Will Overwhelm Local Character


Over 100 years ago my family came to the Payson area and has been here in one way or another ever since.

In that time, we have seen many changes come to our neck of the woods.

But now, as we begin the next 100 years of Payson and northern Gila County growth, that which we all know and love about this beautiful part of the forest is being threatened.

A developer has purchased some acreage between Payson and Kohl's Ranch near the areas called Thompson Draw and Bear Flats. This developer is asking the county to approve a density for his development that not only exceeds the average of high-density Phoenix, but also exceeds the average of high-density Los Angeles.

Now, in the name of full disclosure, I'll admit I'm a little biased as my family has had a cabin near this beautiful spot for nearly 50 years. But the facts speak for themselves.

This project, if allowed to continue as proposed, would take an urban site plan and plunk it down right in the middle of the Tonto National Forest ... next to a rural development that has been there for a very long time.

Streetlights that ruin the view of the night sky. Paved streets that dramatically change the character of the country setting. Noise that disrupts the tranquil sounds of the forest. All these things and more are coming to this area, with the added bonus of the crime and traffic that always accompany large groups of people in small spaces.

In short, the proposal by the developer for this area is certain to overwhelm the local character of the land, and certain to negatively change the world of the people that have property there.

And then there's the problem of water.

The site in question has severe water restrictions built in by Mother Nature herself. Adding hundreds and hundreds of people to the equation is not going to help matters one bit.

In fact, existing water users in the surrounding area are predicted to have real water problems in the future should this development get the go ahead.

For all these reasons the Gila County Board of Supervisors has every rationale to reject this inappropriate development plan, and hopefully when the three supervisors take up the issue they will do just that.

But there's one more reason to consider.

The people like my family and others, who have been here for decades, and who will be here for decades, have paid taxes and contributed to this community ... people who own property nearby that will suffer negatively because of this development ... people that have a productive history in northern Gila County and an emotional as well as financial stake in its future ... these people need to be heard on this controversial issue.

Over the next few weeks we'll be telling our story in hopes that someone in authority is listening.

Someone who can prevent a bad thing from happening to a part of the Payson area we love so much.

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