Representatives of the town and Payson Humane Society met Thursday morning to try and resolve their differences over a site for a new shelter.
Town Manager Fred Carpenter said the meeting was productive.
"We're exploring options, potentially a lease up near the airport -- long-term, of course," Carpenter said. "It's still under exploration. We kind of discussed with the board members that there were some ideas that we had, and they threw out some ideas they had, and it was really a good give-and-take session."
Shelter representatives in attendance were less enthusiastic.
"We're moving forward and investigating this thing," Carol Stubbs, legal advisor to the humane society, said. "I've got my doubts but ... we're going to look into it. It was a spirited discussion."
Barbara Brenke, PHS vice president, agreed.
"I am hopeful that we can move forward," she said. "I'm not convinced that we're anywhere near ready to accept a contract or anything."
The town wants to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to lease the shelter a parcel of land near the airport. The shelter is hesitant to build a new facility on leased land.
Brenke believes the town should pursue clarification from the FAA whether the land designated for airport use could be used for an animal shelter.
"We need to see if that part of it would be agreed upon before we get too much further," she said.
Stubbs said the next step is to take the ideas discussed back to the humane society board and to research how leasing a site might impact the shelter's ability to get grants.
Another possibility, according to Carpenter, is to lease the shelter one acre from a five-acre site on the northwest corner of Houston Mesa Road and Highway 87 the town hopes to purchase from the U.S. Forest Service for a Blue Ridge Reservoir water treatment facility.
"The minimum they'll sell you is five acres. We don't need five acres," Carpenter said.
The issue has been complicated by a proposed revision to the town's barking dog ordinance that could allow the town to cite the shelter. Sam Streichman, town attorney, is currently rewriting the ordinance after the town council provided input to his preliminary draft.
An article in the Nov. 12 issue of the Roundup implied that Councilors Robert Henley and Tim Fruth wanted Streichman to include language that would hold the shelter accountable for barking dogs, while exempting for-profit ventures like kennels and grooming businesses. While both Henley and Fruth did, in fact, ask Streichman to add language that would hold the shelter accountable, they are not in favor of exempting for-profit businesses.
Other town news
- The town council authorized filing the necessary court documents to remove the deed restrictions on the 36-acre Payson Event Center property Thursday evening. The move allows the plan submitted by Hospitality Support Group to build a conference, hotel, restaurant and amphitheater to proceed.
- The council also voted to move ahead on public transit by authorizing an implementation plan and cost estimates, and to submit a grant application for $35,000 to be used as capital for the public transit system if the councils gives final approval. A public transit study recommends that the town adopt a "deviated fixed route" bus system -- a hybrid that combines features of fixed route and dial-a-ride systems.
- The Arizona Water Settlement Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday, clearing the way for northern Gila County to secure 3,500 acre-feet of water from Blue Ridge Reservoir.