More than 60 people turned out for an informational meeting last week on the first of three projects proposed by the developers who want to bring water from Star Valley to Payson.
Terra Capital Group of Scottsdale seeks to rezone a 64-acre parcel of land at the southeast end of town to build 54 single-family homes in a planned community called Forest Edge. Cedar Lane, the Tonto National Forest, and the Boulder Creek and Rim View Heights subdivisions border the area.
Criticism came from audience members concerned about increased traffic through adjacent neighborhoods, and piping water from Star Valley down Highway 260 to meet water credit requirements.
Mark Borushko, who moderated the meeting, works for Scottsdale-based MB Group, a development consulting firm hired by Terra Capital.
"What we are proposing is a land use that we think is appropriate," Borushko said. "It's not as high, not as intense as we think it could be."
The proposed lots, which are just under a half acre to three acres, are sized according to land features, said Borushko.
"To come up with the plan, we took a look at the topographical characteristics of the property, at slope categories, vegetation, washes, and significant natural features," he said. "We established what we felt were realistic building envelopes or areas where we felt single-family homes could be placed as sensitively as possible."
The subject of Star Valley water came up several times during the meeting.
One of the Terra Capital principals, G. Michael Horton, of Payson, told the audience that Star Valley would be tapped to meet town water requirements to move the Forest Edge subdivision forward.
Horton and Bill Rappaport, president of the Diamond Star Water Coalition, the group that formed to stop Terra Capital's water pipeline, exchanged barbs when an audience member asked what would happen when the water dries up.
"It's not going to be running out," Horton said.
"I don't see how you can guarantee the water from Star Valley," Rappaport said.
"The report we did certainly supports that," Horton responded.
"I'm sure the lawyers are going to have an awful lot to talk about," Rappaport said.
"I'm sure they will," Horton added.
Later in the meeting, Payson resident Pat Allebrand drew applause when she questioned the developer's need for Star Valley.
"The people of Star Valley and Diamond Point don't want this," she said. "Payson is taking their water, and I think it is absolutely wrong."
The proposed subdivision also includes:
- Narrower streets to discourage traffic.
"We, as I'm sure most of you folks, don't want to see a whole lot of traffic on this road," Borushko said.
- A multi-use public trail, running through the project from Cedar Lane into the Tonto National Forest, "embellished" with "surface," trail markers, and signage at key locations.
"(It) will probably be dedicated over to the town of Payson as a public trail for everybody in the community," Borushko said.
- Specific hillside dedications that will effectively preserve about 24 percent of the site as open space.
- Building areas and street alignments designed so construction will take place on the lower slopes, saving the steeper slopes as a "view shed."
Forest Edge will go before the town planning and zoning commission and then the town council. Borushko believes the rezoning will be approved.
"We feel very good about this," he said. "We're not just coming in and haphazardly throwing lots up; we're trying to be very, very responsive.
"We're trying to be stewards of the property, and we feel as though we're doing the right thing," he added.
(In next Tuesday's Roundup, G. Michael Horton and two other Terra Capital principals tell their side of the Diamond Star water story).