Council Sends Star Valley Home Empty

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The Payson Town Council denied the Diamond Star annexation petition on legal technicalities Thursday night, rejecting a pro-active alternative on an issue that continues to give the council a collective black eye.

The annexation process was initiated by a group of Star Valley residents after the town agreed to accept water from a developer who is drilling wells inside their community. Fearing their own wells might run dry, the Diamond Star Water Coalition submitted petitions containing the signatures of 95 residents who live in the Diamond Star Fire District, the area the town is being asked to annex.

Early on in their deliberation, the council finally seemed to be casting a sympathetic eye on the plight of their neighbors. In addition to accepting Town Manager Fred Carpenter's recommendation that town staff be directed to do a comprehensive analysis of the legalities and benefits of annexation, the council also seemed willing to expand the analysis to include the Diamond Star Water Coalition.

A generous motion by Councilor Dick Reese would have added the coalition as partners in a broadened analysis. Carpenter even suggested that the analysis include the option of incorporation.

But just as the council seemed ready to pass Reese's motion, another councilor introduced the possibility of simply rejecting the petition on the grounds that it was impossible to determine public sentiment in the district.

The council quickly turned tail and did just that -- leaving those in attendance with the feeling that it had taken the easy way out of a serious issue.

Left unanswered is the question of moral justification for the town's acceptance of water from Star Valley in the first place.

Despite coalition spokesman Randy Roberson's intimation that the council needed to abide by the 10 Commandments instead of looking for legal technicalities, not one councilor stepped forward to defend what still appears, at least, to be morally suspect.

Maybe the council had the best intentions in taking the action it did. Maybe the council can still explain why it has agreed to take water from its neighbor, water that Public Works Director Buzz Walker has publicly said is "at peril" due to possible contamination.

But on the verge of such a positive step, the council's action last night left nothing but a bad taste.

The next time this issue comes before the council, we hope it will take the positive action it passed up last night -- that of including the Diamond Star Water Coalition in a comprehensive study of both annexation and incorporation.

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