Second Developer Circles Around Star Valley Water

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The Payson Town Council held an executive session last night to discuss and seek legal counsel on Star Valley water issues.

While one council member who asked to remain anonymous said the meeting was scheduled to allow the council to reassess its position on the incorporation of Diamond Star, Mayor Barbara Brewer insists it wasn't.

"We have another contractor who's wanting the same thing, to bring the water (from Star Valley to Payson to meet town water credit requirements) and (the meeting is also) about what we will do if they try to incorporate," Brewer said.

The issue of Diamond Star incorporation erupted in January when the council, meeting in executive session, agreed to accept water from a well drilled in Star Valley by developer G. Michael Horton. Seeking to protect their water, residents of Star Valley and Diamond Point Shadows organized to stop their water from being piped to Payson.

The council took no action after the executive session, but Town Manager Fred Carpenter said an item discussed in the meeting could appear on the agenda of the regular council meeting scheduled for June 23. Carpenter declined to discuss the executive session further.

But Brewer lashed out at the Diamond Star Water Coalition.

"(The executive session) was held because they're not talking accurate facts -- (coalition member) Chris (Benjamin), (Diamond Star Fire Chief Gary) Hatch, and all of them," she said. "We're not doing anything. We don't have contracts with the developers. We don't have anything to go on other than a memorandum of understanding."

Benjamin, who owns property adjacent to Horton's well, said he is not surprised that another developer has surfaced.

"I know seven wells have been drilled in Star Valley besides the one next door to me," Benjamin said. "From what I understand, Horton is going to be taking reservations to (pipe water to the town) and all kinds of developers are stepping up to the plate."

Bill Rappaport, president of the Diamond Star Water Coalition, said it's not hard to figure out what's going on.

"This whole thing boils down to money," he said. "There's money on the table, and that's what's driving all of this."

The coalition did not send a representative to the meeting. The executive session, which began at 5 p.m., was followed by a budget planning meeting.

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