Council Continues To Wrestle With Affordable Housing

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For the third time in as many weeks the town council held a special meeting to wrestle with questions about affordable housing.

At the Oct. 21 meeting, the council heard requests from the Payson Regional Housing Development corporation to help get the Green Valley Apartments off the ground.

The apartment plan is for a 40-unit affordable housing complex in the Green Valley Redevelopment Area.

The group sought to either have the town waive the development fees or allow it to pay them over time.

The group also wanted the town to put in the development's share of the road connecting Main Street to Aero Drive and construct the drainage system for the Kaibab property where the apartments are to be built.

The work on developing the project has been taking place for more than two years, PRHD President Richard Croy told the council.

"The ($3 million) grant was originally approved with all the fees being waived," David Cordes said. Cordes is working with PRHD to develop the project.

Town Attorney Sam Streichman said the town cannot waive the development fees without opening the door to be challenged by everyone else who has paid the fees.

Cordes corrected himself, saying the previous mayor and town manager had said the town would pay the development fees, not waive them.

The PRHD has already made a payment plan deal with the Northern Gila County Sanitary District for connecting to the sewer system, Croy said.

A down payment will be made, with the balance of the connection fee paid over 15 years.

"We have until Nov. 22 to get the land and two years to build and fully occupy it," Cordes said.

Between the development fees, the road and drainage work, Councilor Robert Henley said the town would be investing $425,000 in the project, more than the state, but be third in line on the mortgage. He said he was not comfortable with the project and with getting information at the last minute. He said, "I have to ask myself if it is the right place to put $425,000 for the community as a whole."

Mayor Ken Murphy said he was more comfortable having the town pay the impact fees for the project than doing the drainage work and road for it.

Regarding the drainage, as it is planned, it is off the actual project site, and the PRHD grant cannot be used for anything off the site, Cordes said.

"An ordinance was approved to underwrite impact fees for any economic development and affordable housing projects in the Green Valley Redevelopment Area," Councilor Dick Wolfe said. He said this was the town's redevelopment infill incentive ordinance.

Wolfe offered a motion to have the town underwrite the impact fees for the project and it was seconded by Judy Buettner.

Discussing the motion, Bryan Siverson said the group wants to pay the impact fees over time and have the town do the drainage project for the benefit of the entire area. He suggested amending the motion to have the town underwrite the fees and then lend the project the money to do the drainage work, taking a promissory note and deed of trust for collateral.

Cordes repeated PRHD could not do a project off its building site.

The underwriting motion failed.

Henley and Councilor Dick Reese both tried to get the discussion tabled, with instructions to the staff to come back with more complete, but simplified, information on the project. These actions also failed.

"It seems strange you've negotiated with everyone and now come to us at the end of the line. I need some time to reflect and see additional staff recommendations," Henley told Croy and Cordes.

Reese said he wanted representatives from both the council and PRHD to sit down, talk it all out and come back to council with a complete, but simple proposal. He again said the discussion should be tabled.

Henley offered yet another motion to table, which Reese seconded and the council passed 6-1, with Siverson the only dissenter.

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