The Payson Town Council heard the first reading of a design review ordinance designed to enhance the street appeal of the town's commercial areas at its regular meeting Thursday evening.
The purpose of the new ordinance, originally approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, is to change the architectural emphasis of the town's business corridors from a contemporary/fast food/gas station look to rustic.
During the first reading of the proposed ordinance, Community Development Director Bob Gould explained that it addresses two primary areas, the exterior architectural features of the building and the site planning.
"On the architectural end of it we get into the building materials and the building colors," Gould said. "We talk about the amount of area that's related to doors and windows on the front end of the building, the trim around doorways, the varied rooflines and the overhangs."
Through the site planning portion of the ordinance, the town hopes to make commercial buildings more pedestrian friendly.
"I think it's about time we started giving just as much attention to the pedestrian and the bicyclist as we've always given to the vehicle," Gould said. "We talk about the preservation of natural landscaping, that we (dedicate) 10 percent of the parking lot to landscaping. We talk about fences and walls and tree replacements and the height of the pedestrian lights."
The new ordinance favors natural landscaping and the preservation of natural features such as large trees, rock outcrops and view sheds. It is applicable to all new construction, but only to the portions of existing buildings that are being remodeled, repainted or re-signed.
The desired effect of the ordinance, which creates a design review overlay district, is the preservation of the "mountain, forest character of (our) small rural community." At the meeting, Councilor George Barriger noted that the ordinance could have been much more restrictive.
"A lot of people have been asking about this mountain, forest concept, and I think the main reason we chose that was to not be so restrictive as to say it has to be territorial or Spanish or whatever," Barriger said.
Gould agreed, adding that compliance will not be that expensive.
"Believe me, nobody's going to go broke doing it," he said.
Gould stressed that these guidelines do not apply to residential areas. The design review overlay district, as defined in the ordinance, is limited to "all property located within any commercial district, except property used for single or two family detached homes" and to "nonresidential developments within a multi-family residential district."
Two major exceptions are the Green Valley Redevelopment Design Review area and "all property owned by the town and used for government purposes." The Green Valley Redevelopment District, which includes Main Street, already has its own design review code.
"In fact, that area has a historical context added on, so there's much more in that ordinance," Gould told the council.
He provided an example to explain why government buildings are excluded.
"The building we have for the public works yard off Airport Road is an example," Gould said. "Without that exclusion in it they would have to abide by (the ordinance). It's not practical to do it; it's not expedient to do it."
But the town will abide by the ordinance with buildings on major streets. In fact, Gould implied that the town is already serving as a role model for the kinds of buildings the ordinance is designed to create.
"One of the examples we used for what type of development we want in this community is the police department building," he said. "In cases where we are building on the highway or even on Main Street, we are abiding by these rules."
A second reading and public comments will he heard during the regular council meeting at 6 p.m. June 23.