Payson's People Devise New Plan

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A group of volunteers are helping town officials devise a new plan for the future a process that began at a recent meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Community Development Director Bob Gould is providing a preliminary overview of the process.

"It's a project that will probably take us about a year," Gould said.

Arizona Revised Statutes require that each town adopt a comprehensive, long-range general plan that expresses the community's vision, identifies goals and development priorities, and serves as a policy guide.

To oversee the process, the town has hired Partners for Strategic Action, an award-winning consulting firm based in Fountain Hills. Founded in 1992, PSA specializes in community and organizational planning.

"Through the general plan, the average citizen can be assured that we're looking closely at how the community develops, and at how to provide services and public facilities in the most cost-effective way," Peggy Fiandaca, general plan project manager for PSA, said. "Payson's general plan will evaluate and provide development policy recommendations about how the town develops over the next 20 years."

State law requires that the plan address the following:

Land Use

Includes the general distribution of land for housing, business, industry, public facilities and open space.

Transportation/Circulation

Identifies the general location and extent of existing and proposed roadways as well as other forms of transportation.

Parks, Recreation and Open Space

Analyzes forecasted needs and identifies potential locations and policies to promote a regional system of integrated open space, recreational resources and trails.

Environmental Planning

Analyzes potential implications of the general plan on air quality, water quality and natural resources.

Cost of Development

Identifies policies and strategies the town will use to require new development to pay its fair share toward the cost of additional public service needs.

Growth Area

Identifies those areas, if any, that are particularly suitable for transportation and infrastructure expansion and improvements.

Water Resources

Provides an inventory of existing water supplies, determines water demand based on land use plan, and presents policies/strategies to ensure future growth will be adequately served by water.

While each city and town in Arizona has long been required to create and adopt a general plan, the Growing Smarter Act of 1998 and the Growing Smarter Plus Act of 2000 added new requirements. These include "effective, early and continuous public participation," a two-thirds vote of the governing body to adopt a new plan, and plan ratification in a general election.

A new plan must be adopted every 10 years, or the current plan may be re-adopted.

"The Town of Payson has an existing general plan," Fiandaca said, "but it is loaded with add-ons and amendments."

To assist the planning and zoning department with the process, a technical advisory committee has been appointed by Gould, with members representing key interest groups and a broad cross-section of the town.

"But planning and zoning will ultimately make the recommendation of a new plan to the council and the voters," Fiandaca said. "They are really the point group in the process."

To ensure multiple opportunities for public participation, all meetings related to the general plan will be open to the public, Fiandaca said.

There will also be two community workshops, and then, later in the process, two public hearings.

The next meeting of the committee is Monday, Sept. 10, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The location will be announced.

"Our goal is to get this to the voters in May, 2002," Fiandaca said, "but that may be a bit optimistic."

The state deadline for having a general plan in place is the end of 2002.

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