Housing Project Didn't 'Fit The Bill'

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It is not my style, nor will it be, to defend myself in the media following a council vote. I will be more than willing to explain my position, and the citizens should rest assured that my homework will be done before casting my vote on any issue.

I voted against the Mountainairre Subdivision after carefully considering many factors, both for and against the proposal. The recent flurry of commentary in the Roundup newspaper seems to focus on the sole issue of "affordability." Among many other points, my vote was influenced by the following major factors:

1. Site location: Only weeks ago, we altered the flight pattern at the airport due to the constant complaints of citizens about the noise created and now we propose to create a high-density subdivision directly under the new flight pattern. In addition to being contradictory, the FAA and ADOT officials indicated that we would be ill-advised to mix airport operations with residential housing. Specifically, they advised against this proposal. Furthermore, it was clear to me that, if this proposal were approved, any future grants for our airport may not meet with the same favor as in the past. Grants thus far have totaled $2,932,254. So you can see that my concern here was for the very continued life of the Payson Airport, particularly considering the historical statistical data presented regarding airport closures due to residential housing encroachment.

2. Affordability: The data presented at the council meeting clearly indicated that it would take an annual salary of $27,000, or $13.10 hourly, to qualify for the minimum-sized home in this development. I did not arbitrarily dismiss the town's mid-level professionals and two-income families nor did I dismiss our town's minimum-wage earners. I simply penciled out a factual observation which placed a definition on "affordability." Everyone who is a citizen of our town deserves the opportunity to own homes and I continue to stand by my campaign promises to support the right to affordable housing and economic development project(s). Affordability is not the only issue involved in this proposal, it is but one of several.

3. Demand for new water: The maximum water credits for the area consisting of the 53 acres under consideration plus the 20 acres to the west of that area is 150 ERUs (equivalent residential units). Reserving 40 ERUs for the 20 acres to the west would leave 110 ERUs for the proposed site. The Mountainairre development, as proposed, required 203 ERUs or 93 additional (new) ERUs of water. The 93 additional units would greatly exceed the 20 ERU limitation we currently use for residential sub-developments. The demand for new water is not an overriding factor, but one to be considered.

4. Planning and zoning recommendations: A considerable amount of time was consumed by the Planning and Zoning Commission in its deliberations regarding this issue. On two occasions, it recommended against this particular proposal. I have taken into account all that each member of the planning and zoning commission had to offer and have given some weight to their overall decision as presented to the council. This issue was a difficult one for them to address and I respect their professional efforts and opinion in my overall assessment leading to my ultimate decision.

The citizens of Payson have heard me indicate that I support the 20 ERU limitation, but that I would waive this limit for the right affordable housing or economic development project. The conflicting interests of airport operations and residential housing make this issue much more complicated than just "affordable" housing. In my judgment, this proposal did not fit the bill. I continue to stand by my vow to champion the quest for "affordable" housing and economic development projects as they benefit all the citizens of Payson. I intend to maintain the confidence of the voters who elected me based upon my platform. I have pledged my personal integrity on my promises made and my integrity is not negotiable.

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