Land Swap To Add Jobs, As Well As Acreage

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The Payson Town Council will consider a resolution endorsing the Payson IV Land Exchange at its 6 p.m. meeting Thursday at Town Hall.

Through the exchange, proposed by three private groups, just over 400 acres of land on the southwest side of Payson Municipal Airport, 13.5 acres of which the town would be eligible to purchase, would be exchanged for approximately 75 acres of land adjacent to Montezuma Castle National Monument. According to Community Development Director Bob Gould, the town's endorsement is necessary to move the exchange forward.

"There are two processes for such exchanges going through a congressional transfer from public to private, and the one normally used, which is for the local forest service to transfer the land," Gould said. "They've chosen to go the congressional route on this."

The town's interest, interim town manager Kelly Udall said, is twofold to be able to purchase the 13.5 acre parcel for expansion of the airport and to create employment areas around the airport on the remainder of the land. He said the town is attempting to get Federal Aviation Administration and ADOT grants to purchase the parcel for airport expansion.

The council also will consider a request Thursday evening to rezone a 7-acre site at 804 S. McLane from residential to commercial. Currently occupied by Car & Truck Salvage, the rezoning would make it compatible with its present use, while also allowing the owner, Leonard Little, to market the property for other uses.

In his request, Gould points out that the current use "is, in all reality, detrimental towards the establishment of the future vision for this area. Mr. Little has expressed a willingness to wind down his operations at this location and consider other alternative uses which could be far more practical in implementing the future vision ..."

That vision calls for an area "far more sensitive to the flood plain issues, the provision of park and open spaces, the provision of public parking facilities, and the establishment of private businesses ... designed to encourage pedestrian use," he said.

The town is developing a master plan for the American Gulch area where the site is located which would significantly decrease the land area within the flood plain increasing the salvage yard from its current status of about .8 acres outside the flood plain to about 5 acres.

The salvage yard was originally zoned CU in 1988, but that classification was eliminated when the town adopted the Unified Development Code in 1996.

While the business can remain regardless of current zoning regulations, Gould will tell the council it is in the town's best interest to work with Little to facilitate a "win-win situation" for both parties.

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