The Payson Town Council will decide whether it will allow neighboring Star Valley and Diamond Point to incorporate when it convenes at 6 p.m. Thursday evening.
The two unincorporated communities east of Payson want the town to disavow any interest in annexing them so they can incorporate as the town of Diamond Star. Before incorporation proceedings begin, Arizona law requires the town of Payson must deny annexation requests.
Town Manager Fred Carpenter is recommending that the town council "decline to support the incorporation...," in effect leaving Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows in limbo.
Residents in Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows hope that by forming a new town they can stop Payson developer G. Michael Horton from piping water from seven wells in Star Valley into the town of Payson to meet water requirements for his new subdivision and other projects.
The effort to incorporate is being led by a nonprofit organization known as the Diamond Star Water Coalition.
Since January, the coalition has prodded the town of Payson to take action toward incorporation, but so far the town has rebuffed all their efforts.
In March, the town council denied the coalition because its petitions containing 95 signatures did not represent a consensus.
The coalition has new petitions bearing the names of 358 out of 1,213 registered voters from Star Valley and Diamond Point.
Chris Benjamin, owner of Sky Run RV Resort and a member of the coalition steering committee, was incredulous when he learned of Carpenter's recommendation to the council to deny their request to incorporate.
"I'm shocked," he said.
In conversations with several council members, including Mayor Barbara Brewer, Benjamin said he was given the impression that the council would grant the coalition's request.
While Carpenter will encourage the town council to reject the coalition's request Thursday evening, he will present the council with three other possible options - granting the coalition permission to proceed with incorporation, taking no action, or conducting an annexation feasibility study.
"A study is expensive," he said. "We'd have to spend some money, and I don't want to recommend we spend a whole lot of money doing it."
Benjamin said that's the last thing the coalition wants, too.
"We told (the mayor) to save their money," he said. "Just turn us loose.
"We would encourage (the council's) support, but not at the cost of bankrolling it. We really know what we're getting into."
Carpenter said he's only looking out for Payson's best interests.
"I don't see where there's a great deal of benefit to the town of Payson for the incorporation of an adjacent community right on the border," he said. "I'm coming at this strictly from the town of Payson's side, which is what I'm supposed to do."
Carpenter also expressed concern that Star Valley and Diamond Point have insufficient resources to succeed as an incorporated entity.
"It doesn't have a lot of commercial (property), and if you're going to rely upon sales tax at all, you need a pretty viable commercial area," he said. "Property taxes are already pretty high."
Carpenter also said he doesn't believe that the incorporation of Diamond Star would stop the developer from piping its water to Payson.
"I don't think it has any impact on water whether they incorporate or don't," he said. "We've done a lot of research and I don't think it does."
Other agenda items
Other items on the agenda Thursday evening include:
- The first reading on an ordinance creating a design review overlay district to "preserve the mountain forest character" of the town.
The purpose of the new ordinance as stated in its introduction is to change the architectural emphasis from contemporary to rustic. The new ordinance favors natural landscaping and the preservation of natural features such as large trees, rock outcrops and view sheds.
- Approval of a proposed schedule of fees charged by the town. Included is an increase from 20 cents to 50 cents per page for requested documents, and a $25 charge for special event liquor licenses, which are currently free.
- Sale of the final two lots owned by the town in the Sky Park Industrial Park subdivision adjacent to the airport.
Special budget meeting
The council will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. tonight on the proposed town budget for the 2005-2006 fiscal year beginning July 1. The meeting is open to the public.