Council Tackles Water, Growth


New subdivisions and whether there's enough water to build them will again dominate the agenda of the Payson Town Council at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The council will consider an intergovernmental agreement to share the cost of a $90,000 geological survey with Gila County in conjunction with the Mogollon Rim Water Resource Management Study group, the consortium brought together by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter said the study is already in progress, but the county has agreed to share the cost because it could have implications for Pine and Strawberry as well as Payson.

"It's an extension of the Diamond Rim fault study that we did earlier," Carpenter said. "The geologist is going to find an extension of the Diamond Rim fault. We think there's good groundwater possibilities, and if it extends west far enough it could help Pine and Strawberry."

Fire flow reduction

Another water issue before the council Thursday is a request by Public Works Director Buzz Walker to establish a new fireflow water supply requirement of .4 gallons per minute per lot, building unit or equivalent residential unit, a decrease from the current requirement of .687.

"Fireflow is the amount of water necessary to fight a fire," Walker said. "When you develop a subdivision or town, you have to have at least 1,000 gallons available per minute for two hours."

In a memo on the subject, Walker pointed out that the current requirement for new commercial and residential projects was developed to offset both domestic water and fire flow demands 25 years ago when the town's public water system was still being developed.

"Back then, Payson was all fragmented," Walker said.

But with the completion of major water storage facilities and an increased capability to transfer higher volumes of water from east side wells to west side water service areas, the current requirement is no longer justifiable, Walker said.

"Now that the system is integrated, a developer doesn't have to duplicate it every time," he said. "We can meet the town-wide fire flow requirements by moving water throughout the existing public water system rather than depending on each water storage tank to service a specific area of the town."

The new requirement equates to 576 gallons per day per ERU, which, Walker said, "is sufficient to account for the average and peak day water use of a home, building unit or ERU."

Walker said the change will "(complement) the town's use of our water conservation ordinance to manage water supply and demand in a more predictable manner."

Subdivision decisions

The council will reaffirm its denial of a zoning change that would have allowed a nine-lot subdivision at 600 E. Tyler Parkway. McIntyre Construction had requested the rezoning for a horse community, Spirit Ridge Equestrian Estates.

The council originally denied the request at its Aug. 12 meeting, agreeing with Public Works Director Buzz Walker's assessment that the subdivision, if approved, would create additional water use in violation of the town's adopted policy to operate within the "safe yield" philosophy. In effect, that policy means that the town will not grow beyond the ability of water supplies to support water demand.

Carpenter said the item is back before the council because Town Attorney Sam Streichman advised the council to officially deny the request through a resolution.

The council will hear a second reading of its decision to approve a new subdivision immediately south of Manzanita Manor. Unlike Spirit Ridge, the developers of this subdivision have water credits approved years ago.

Unless it's pulled from the consent agenda, the council also is expected to approve without discussion the final plat for Cedar Ridge Phase I, an eight-lot subdivision on the north side of Chenault Parkway at west Cloud Nine Parkway. The preliminary plat was approved at the May 27 council meeting.

Low-income senior apartments

The council also will consider waiving the building and plan review fees for Canal Senior Apartments, a 63-unit low-income development at 207 West Main Street in the Green Valley Redevelopment Infill Incentive District. According to the language adopted by the council when the district was established in 2001, the council is required to waive such fees for affordable housing projects in that area.

Bilingual pay policy

Among other items on the agenda, Human Resources Manager Tracy Snyder will present the bilingual pay policy the council asked her to draft at the Aug. 12 meeting. The policy is designed to provide additional compensation for employees who are called upon to translate for those who don't speak English.

Snyder will propose a stipend of $100 per month for those who qualify. She will present a spreadsheet showing that the average compensation for those towns in Arizona currently offering such a plan is $92 per month.

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