Council Majority Unable To Revive Housing Project

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Under normal circumstances, an issue that is given thumbs down by the Payson Town Council can return to the table if the majority of councilmembers want to give it further consideration and, perhaps, another vote.

But that will not happen with the plan to build 203 affordable housing units near Mazatzal Mountain Airpark, which was shot down by the council July 13.

In this case, the minority is the majority.

Let Payson's vice mayor, Dick Wolfe, explain.

"In order for it to be brought up for reconsideration before the council, it would have to be a motion made by the 'prevailing party,'" Wolfe said. "And as strange as it may seem, the 'prevailing party' in this instance is the minority.

"Even though the vote was four to three in favor, the minority won because of the 'supermajority' rule. So in this particular instance, the minority would have to make the motion, and they're not likely to do that."

The latest effort to create what was billed as affordable housing lost its fight for life because state law dictates that a "supermajority" vote is required when 20 percent or more of the property owners within 150 feet of the boundaries of such a project file a protest which was the case. The zone change request that would have allowed the plan to move forward could have passed only if six of the seven councilmembers voted in its favor.

As it turned out, three of the seven councilmembers Mayor Ray Schum and councilmembers Barbara Brewer and Hoby Herron voted against the project.

And if it were to return, Schum, for one, would turn it down again.

"Everywhere I go, the big preponderance of people I see tell me, 'Ray, you had guts enough to do the right thing,'" Schum said. "I've only had four people say they'd have done it different. I think my decision was right, and it was based purely and simply on the fact that it was the wrong location ... Equal housing was not the issue. The issue was wrong location. So I would vote the same way."

The "prevailing party" condition comes from Roberts Rules, according to Payson Assistant Attorney Jeff Blilie.

Asked if this minority-majority power switch had ever occurred in Payson politics before, Blilie said, "Not to my knowledge."

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