Lack Of Trails Agreement Blocks Planned Subdivision

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"A trail runs through it," and because the developers of a proposed gated community haven't guaranteed public access to the Forest Service trails system, their project is now on hold.

The town Planning and Zoning Commission tabled a preliminary plat review Monday for Boulder Creek, a 20-home subdivision southeast of the intersection of East Cedar Lane and South Sutton Road.

The 50-acre site has an existing, developed trail adjoining Forest Service property, and the developer The Lead Group of Tempe failed to follow through on a possible relocation proposed at a Payson Town Council meeting in January, Commission Chairman Ruth Craig said. At that meeting, the council approved a rezoning request for the project when the developer agreed to work with the Gila County Trails Association to clear a new trailway along the Forest Service boundary.

"Nobody did anything about it in the interim," Craig said.

After considerable discussion, the commission voted 3-2 to table the plat review pending assurance that trails access will be maintained. "We need to see minutes or some kind of written report that a meeting was held with the trails association or the Forest Service and this matter was resolved," Craig said.

State law permits the town to require trail access, Rudy Frost, town zoning administrator, said. "This presents a problem because private, gated (communities) and public trails are not compatible," he said.

Home sites in the proposed development would range from 2.07 to 3.03 acres. Because the trails system in the area, which includes the Yerba Senta Trail and the Stewart Pocket or Boulders Trail, is currently being re-evaluated by the Forest Service with input from the trails association, several options might be available to the developer, Frost said.

If the developer secures a workable trails access arrangement, the item could be placed back on the commission agenda as early as April 30, Craig said.

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