Council Approves ‘Emergency' Senior Apartments, Tables Noise Issue


Both emergency ordinances on the agenda resulted in the most controversy at Thursday night's meeting of the Town Council.

Granting the developers of the Canal low-income senior apartments on Main Street an exemption on density standards was one of the emergencies that brought questions from the public.

Mayor Ken Murphy recused himself due to his association with Manzanita Manor, which also offers senior housing. He called on Vice Mayor Barbara Brewer to take the gavel.

According to Community Development Director Bob Gould, Englewood Development was required to have its application for the low-income units into the state by mid-May and needed the zoning approval.

Much of the public objection was that the location of the apartments on historic Main Street would take away from its physical appearance and the occupants would complain about the noise.

"I brought up the noise issue with the developer," Gould said. "Notices will be given to make tenants understand that they are in an area where noise exists."

Affordable housing, according to councilor Judy Buettner, was a part of the Green Valley Redevelopment Project.

"The apartments are not directly on Main Street, " Brewer said. "It will sit back from Main Street."

Payson resident Pat Randall questioned why this ordinance was an emergency.

"An emergency ordinance is to protect the peace, health or safety of the community," Randall said. "I don't see how this is an emergency."

The council called on town attorney Sam Streichman to answer Randall.

"We don't have to answer that question," Streichman said. "This is what the council decided."

Councilor Bryan Siverson gave his opinion on why the ordinance could be defined as an emergency.

"Affordable housing for seniors is in the best interest of the health and welfare of our community," Siverson said.

Elaine Drorbaugh, president of the Payson Senior Center executive board spoke on behalf of the project.

"We have a lot of senior citizens that have to live out of town and we can't provide services to them," Drorbaugh said. "If they could live in town, they wouldn't care about how much noise there was if they could live close to shopping, their doctors, and have access to our senior center."

"Affordable housing has been in our Strategic Plan for years," Councilor Dick Wolfe said. "We need it and we have the opportunity to approve it."

In order for any emergency ordinance to become law, no less than six votes are required. With Murphy's recusal from vote, the council needed a unanimous vote. All six remaining members approved the emergency ordinance.

Emergency addition to noise ordinance

"Our town noise ordinance includes such things as barking dogs and loud music," Gould said. "This ordinance would add new sources of noise to this ordinance."

Gould was referring to the second emergency ordinance that would make it illegal to operate refrigerated trucks, generators, compressors and electric, gas-powered or liquid-fuel motors or engines between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The ordinance was prompted, in part, by a long-time resident living in a mixed-use zone near Aero Drive, who is plagued by the sounds of trucks and refrigerated trailers in the early hours of the morning.

While the council appeared empathetic to this particular case, several business owners unrelated to the case told the council how the broad scope of the ordinance would affect them.

Daryl Kaufmann, owner of Daryl's Precision has operated his machine shop for 10 years.

"I run air compressors," Kaufmann said. "When business is good -- sometimes 24 hours a day.

"My problem is that I paid a premium price for my C3 property so that I could operate my business and my concern is that you are building 40 residential units within 300 feet from my business."

Kaufmann went on to say that passing the ordinance would put him out of business and he has never had a noise complaint.

Murphy described the ordinance as "using a shotgun to kill a gnat."

"I don't know all the nuances of this ordinance and I have a problem doing this haphazardly and quickly," Murphy said. "This ordinance will have unintended consequences."

Gould agreed that the ordinance was a "shotgun" approach.

"This is a poorly written ordinance," Dick Wolfe said.

The council briefly considered changing some of the wording of the ordinance to narrow the scope, but in the end, chose to table the issue until a further date.

Both emergency ordinances illuminated conflicts arising from the mixed-use area that comprises the Southwest portion of town, including the Green Valley redevelopment area.

"We have a dilemma with the mixed-use areas," Gould said.

Between the two ordinances and the impending adoption of the town's Corporate Strategic and General Plan, zoning and land use conflicts may continue to be a point of contention.

The next town council meeting is scheduled for May 8 and is open to the public.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.