After a protracted debate, the Payson Town Council unanimously voted Thursday to reshape the intersection between Highway 260 and the Beeline as part of a joint project with the Arizona Department of Transportation.
The adjustments, designed to improve traffic flow and increase safety, include:
extending the median on Highway 260 east to the entrance to the Payson Village Shopping Center at Country Kitchen and the entrance to Wells Fargo Bank;
the installation of a new traffic signal at that intersection;
the addition of a right-hand turn lane onto Longhorn Road from southbound Highway 87, and;
the addition of right- and left-hand turn lanes from Longhorn Road onto Highway 87.
According to ADOT district engineer Tom Foster, the intersection has become the third busiest in the Prescott District, which includes Cordes Junction, Prescott, Verde Valley, Wickenburg and Payson.
Arguing against the improvements were local McDonald's manager Larry Best and director of operations Kris Tackett. They asked the council to consider a compromise that would allow the restaurant manager to install a sign east of the new traffic signal letting motorists know they have to turn there to reach McDonald's.
The council disregarded that proposal, however, and approved the original plan 7-0.
According to Foster, construction will begin on the intersection redesign sometime between July 2001 and July 2002.
Many of the 60 people in the audience wore "I Support The Door Stop" campaign-type buttons in support of owners James and Sioux Hill who want to move their cabinet door manufacturing company, which is currently based in Chandler, to a five-acre parcel of land just south of Payson Municipal Airport. The company could create up to 75 jobs in the Rim country with annual average wages ranging from $20,000 to $30,000.
Mayor Ray Schum invited Hill to introduce himself and briefly address the council. Hill then thanked supporters for attending.
"Your support tonight has exceeded my expectations, and it's even exceeded my hopes," Hill said. "I am now convinced that The Door Stop's investment in Payson is a solid business decision.
"You now have my commitment that if the bidding process allows us to purchase the property, The Door Stop will be moving to Payson."
The town is currently accepting bids on the parcel, and a final decision will be made at the March 8 council meeting. The minimum bid is $225,000, and the town has announced that "... economic benefits accruing from each bid" will be considered.
Green Valley incentives
In other action, the council also adopted an infill incentive plan for the recently designated Green Valley Infill Incentive District. One of two major provisions in that plan, amending the town code to relax peak water demand limits to 60 equivalent residential units for affordable housing and economic development projects within the district, also was approved.
To qualify for the relaxed water standard, developers of affordable housing must agree to limit occupancy to people whose income does not exceed the Gila County median family annual income and to charge rents not to exceed 120 percent of the fair market monthly rent in Gila County.
A second provision, to enable waivers of plan review and building permit fees and underwriting of development impact fees for affordable housing and economic development projects within the incentive district, will be brought before the council at a later date according to Town Manager Rich Underkofler.
Smooth roads ahead
The council also approved a request by Underkofler to abandon a proposal to offer 50 percent matching funds to the residents of the eastern half of Alpine Heights and part of Alpine Ridge to establish a local improvement district for the purpose of upgrading roads and drainage. Residents rejected the town's offer by an 81-37 margin on Jan. 29.
In its place, the council authorized a similar proposal for upgrading roads in Granite Dells Estates Subdivision south of Granite Dells Road. Payson High School sophomore Lisa Jackson, who lives in the subdivision, reported the results of an informal survey she took of residents that indicated overwhelming support among the 20 affected homeowners.
The town manager said one important difference between Alpine Heights and Granite Dells Estates is the fact that the roads in question in the latter, Hermosillo and part of Frontier, have never been paved. The town will now officially poll the residents in the neighborhood by mail before proceeding.