The Rim country was officially declared a REDI community during the Payson Town Council meeting last Thursday. In announcing the designation, Robert Detweiler, director of rural development for the Arizona Department of Commerce, told the council the community is doing "great work."
REDI, an acronym for Rural Economic Development Initiative, was created by the Arizona legislature in 1987 to promote economic development in rural areas. The Rim country will join thirteen organizations representing 26 communities and counties currently holding REDI accreditation.
"The department of commerce looks to see if a community is 'ready' to practice responsible community development," Detweiler said.
The REDI program provides direct assistance to rural communities for economic development programs and creating new job opportunities. Matching grants are available.
"As a community, we stand behind economic development," said Payson Mayor Ray Schum. "This is taking hold and we're doing a great job."
Indian Trails denied again
The council also backed a decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission to deny a rezoning request that would have allowed a 20-lot subdivision on 11.71 acres of land at 509 N. Chaparral Pines Drive. The proposed subdivision, Indian Trails Estates, has been turned down by planning and zoning on several occasions.
While most adjacent residents approved the proposed development, many horse owners in the area argued that it would not be compatible with the surrounding area.
Local attorney Michael Harper, arguing on behalf of the zoning change, pointed out that since the site is across the street from the Chaparral Pines clubhouse, it is more suited to subdivision development than horse property.
Lat Celmins, a Scottsdale attorney representing the Coalition for Concerned Citizens in the Chaparral Pines Area, countered that property owner Lawrence Sheehan knew there were restrictions on the land when he acquired it. Celmins also noted that nearly 300 similar lots are currently for sale in Payson, compared to just 17 parcels with horse privileges.
Bob Flibotte, newly elected chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, emphasized that the decision had larger ramifications than a single 20-unit subdivision.
"This is about the entire area," Flibotte said. "There is a potential total of 148 new homes that were not originally planned for that road.
"There is a decreasing amount of horse property available in our community, but there is not a need for 20-lot subdivisions," Flibotte said.
Other actions taken at the council meeting Thursday evening included:
A 5-2 vote to abolish the Airport Advisory Board. At the December council meeting, Schum assured pilots that they will still have a voice in the airport's operation.
"We are not going to ignore the pilots," Schum said. The mayor believes the board spends too much time dealing with complaints from airport critics.
Amended the town code to allow dogs to be off-leash in the new dog park approved for a portion of Rumsey Park. The current ordinance prohibits dog "to be at large within the corporate limits of the town" with the exception of dog shows and service dogs for the disabled. The new language would also exempt dogs "within designated off-leash areas."
Authorized drafting a lease agreement between the town and Arizona Public Service on property at 1100 N. Falcon Crest Drive off Airport Road. The utility company wants to erect a 50-foot communications tower at the airport water tank site that will enhance the reliability of electrical service in the Payson area. The alternative site was chosen after the Payson Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a request by APS to erect a 150-foot tower in the parking lot of its service center at 400 W. Longhorn Rd. The higher tower was needed at the Longhorn site to clear a nearby hill with a large water tank.