Despite the best efforts of a professional facilitator, The Door Stop cabinet factory and its Mazatzal Mountain Air Park neighbors remain at loggerheads over noise.
The two groups, and all others interested in the subject of noise, were brought together Tuesday evening at town hall for an open house on the subject. The purpose of the meeting was to gather community input to serve as a guideline in drafting a town noise ordinance.
Under the leadership of Valley facilitator Lance Decker, the meeting began with a discussion of barking dogs and ended with a discussion of truck noise. But the preponderance of the two-hour session focused on the issue most of the 100 or so people in attendance had come to talk about -- the noise emitted by The Door Stop and what, if anything, could be done about it.
Decker asked Ernie Pritchard, head of Citizens Against Noise and Industrial Travesties (CANIT), and Jim Hill, owner of The Door Stop, to positively present their respective cases in three minutes. Pritchard began by portraying Payson as a "semi-mountain resort community" made up primarily of retirees.
"It's important to keep people like myself and the 55-and-over people up here," Pritchard said. "(We are) a mainstay and a major tax input for this town."
He asked the town to pass a noise ordinance that would help define the community according to those characteristics, and he called on Hill to take additional steps to insulate and shield the offending dust collectors.
"If he were to do that and do it correctly -- he may have to work at it a little before he solves it -- I think he can meet the town of Tempe-type ordinance," Pritchard said.
But when asked by Decker if he would be satisfied if Hill took those steps, Pritchard replied, "I can't guarantee that."
During his presentation, Hill objected to characterizing Payson as predominantly a retirement community.
"Although there are retired people in Payson, there are other people in Payson that are not retired," he said, "people that are raising families in Payson that would like to have the opportunity for their families to remain in Payson. That's what we offer."
Hill also reminded attendees of his company's location.
"We're not in a residential development," he said. "We're in an industrial zone at the end of a runway."
Hill also disagreed with Pritchard when he said residents did not sign off on the industrial park as a "nuisance" when they bought their homes.
"The subdivision papers that each lot owner signed ... has the disclosure that there are known nuisances in the area," he said. "One of them is the airport. The other one is the industrial zone."
Decker posed a challenge to attendees.
"I don't think anybody here would say there isn't some kind of discomfort because of the noise," he said. "I think everyone would admit that. Now the question is, ‘What are we going to do about that?'"
The ensuing discussion focused on new noise reduction technologies and other possible solutions, including Hill's proposal to design new buildings in a horseshoe shape to surround noisy machines.
A major point of contention that emerged was whether The Door Stop is in violation of the current M1 zoning ordinance.
"There is no violation of our M1 zoning ordinance," Gould said emphatically.
"The town's response over three months ago was that The Door Stop is not in violation of the deed restrictions, we're not in violation of the CC and Rs, we're not in violation of the town noise nuisance ordinance, and we are within the intent of the industrial zone," he said.
With Hill asking for a noise ordinance of 75 decibels around the clock and Pritchard insisting on the Tempe levels of 55 daytime and 45 nighttime, Decker referred the final decision to the town council.
"Seventy-five dBs to you is the magic point, right?" he asked Hill. "You," he said, turning to Pritchard, "want 55 during the day and 45 at night. Is there any place these two can live? I thought I heard some real consensus early on, but I'm not seeing any."
Town Manager Fred Carpenter expects a draft noise ordinance to be ready for the council's consideration in July.
After the meeting, Councilor Judy Buettner told the Roundup that she backs Mayor-elect Barbara Brewer's position that any noise ordinance passed by the town must allow The Door Stop to operate 24-hours-a-day.
"I can't see changing the rules in the middle of the game," Buettner said.