Council To Vote On Payson's 10-Year Plan

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A final draft of the town's General Plan update goes before the town council Thursday for approval.

The plan provides a policy framework for future growth and development for the next 10 years and ties it directly to water availability.

One hitch during the approval process of the plan was the recent release of the water status report showing that the town is at 99 percent of safe-yield. The plan includes language that uses the safe-yield concept as a bell weather of growth capability. The 99 percent indicates that if water use continues at the same rate, more water will be used than is being replenished. In theory, this could trigger an application of growth control measures -- in other words, a moratorium.

Another option the council may choose is to alter the language in the plan either using another guiding concept than safe-yield, or allowing for some flexibility in its application.

The council is meeting in executive session that is closed to the public before the regular meeting to discuss, according to agenda, "legal issues, remedies, and options arising out of the procurement, delivery, transfer and availability of water supplies."

Although Town Manager Fred Carpenter told the Roundup that he could not elaborate on the subject of the executive session, he did indicate that it was related to the safe yield concept mentioned in both the General Plan and the one-year Corporate Strategic Plan.

The plan, which has not undergone a major revision since 1981, now ties growth directly to the policy of safe yield and attempts to balance land use with resource availability.

According to one of the town's consultants, Peggy Fiandaca of Partners for Strategic Action, the plan is aimed at preserving the quality of life for Payson's residents.

"The plan looks at how we can do strategic growth management in concert with the desires of the community," Fiandaca said. "Looking at fiscal sustainability and balancing it with resource availability."

The plan now requires a mandatory conformance with zoning requirements.

"It is not your zoning code," Fiandaca said. "It is the plan that sets long-range policies for your community. It dictates how major and minor amendments to the plan get reviewed and adopted. The plan is dynamic, it's not cast in stone."

According to Fiandaca, several additions have been made to the plan besides the water resource element.

"We've added more employment-designated land as well as a rural classification to ensure that rural character is preserved." Fiandaca said. "There is also an open space element where we preclude any development except public recreation facilities."

The plan also has designated areas for commercial growth, resorts and mixed uses.

Thursday is the final public hearing on the plan and if adopted by the council, it cannot undergo further changes before ratification by the public in the September election.

Thursday's meeting of the town council starts at 6 p.m. in council chambers at town hall and is open to the public.

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