The two sides in the Alpine Heights street improvement controversy sat down together at Payson Town Hall Wednesday and amicably agreed to the ground rules for a new election to be conducted early next year.
With only minor changes, both sides approved the wording of a four-page fact sheet written by Town Manager Rich Underkofler that will accompany the ballots. Each side also submitted a brief position statement to be included in the packet that will be sent to all property owners in the proposed local improvement district.
The battle over whether to create such a district in the eastern half of the community to re-pave streets, add curbs and correct longstanding drainage problems has inflamed emotions and split the subdivision in northeast Payson virtually down the middle. Alpine Heights residents Robert Carr and Ted Scholz are leading the two factions.
Prior to a recount held earlier this month, both sides claimed to have the signatures of a majority of the 138 property owners in the portion of the 250-lot subdivision that is included in the proposed district's boundaries.
The final tally at the recount was 62 opposed, 58 in favor, 13 who voted both for and against, and five who were not contacted or chose not to vote. With neither side winning a majority, the matter was postponed until after Christmas.
Ballots will now be mailed to property owners around Jan. 5, and will be counted at Town Hall at 1 p.m. Jan. 29. The matter will then be presented to the Town Council at its regular Feb. 8 meeting.
If property owners vote to establish a local improvement district, bonds will be issued to finance the street repairs. The homeowners will pay half the cost as much as $5,000 a lot and the town will pay the other half.
The issue has been complicated by the fact that Payson Mayor Ray Schum lives in Alpine Heights and has been actively involved as a proponent of the new district.
Another point of contention is the way the subdivision was split so that the western portion, where Carr says more people who are opposed to an improvement district live, was left out.
In their position paper, signed by Carr and fellow residents Thomas Marco and Michael Berry, district opponents emphasized the town's legal commitment to maintain all subdivision roads in a usable and safe condition. "The improvement district is a great deal for the (town) in that new tax money does not have to be found for the town's deteriorating streets," they wrote.
The proponents' position paper, which will be signed by Scholz, stressed the fact that the cost of street repairs will only go higher if the improvement district is turned down. Scholz also pointed out that "...the construction can be voted down" if the final assessment is too high.