Cat Condos, College On Council's Agenda

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The Payson Town Council will take up the case of the cat condo vendor when it convenes at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Bill Winn, who sells his custom-made cat condo furniture to supplement his Social Security income, was recently booted from his usual location in front of the Best Western Inn on Highway 87 by the town's planning and zoning commission.

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Bill Winn

Winn, who operated from the hotel parking lot for three years, now peddles his wares outside the laundromat in Star Valley.

As a result, his business has been cut in half, making it even tougher to make ends meet. Together, Winn and his wife, a retired nurse, get about $1,100 per month from Social Security.

"A few weeks ago, they had a hearing at the planning and zoning commission, and there was a split over whether to let this guy have a conditional use permit or not," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said. "In order to do these outdoor sales in a C2 zone, you have to have a conditional use permit, and if you don't get it from the planning and zoning commission, you can appeal it to the council."

The commission split 3-3 on the issue, which constituted a denial of the permit. Winn's request for another hearing is based on the fact that Commissioner Hallie Overman -- the potential tie-breaking vote -- was absent.

As far as Winn can tell, the only person who has a problem with his business is Nicholas Brotcke, owner of Pioneer Village Trading Post at 1117 N. Beeline Highway. The Best Western is located at 801 N. Beeline Highway.

Brotcke has written three letters of complaint. In the most recent, dated March 22, Brotcke acknowledged that he has complained to the town building department "verbally and by phone" for "at least one year," and claims he has been "villainized" by town officials in return.

"Outside display and sales of merchandise are illegal and inappropriate for that location," he wrote. "If Mr. Winn is granted his request, he will be the only such peddler in Payson's history and he will set a (precedent) for downgrading the community's future."

In an earlier letter dated Oct. 25, 2004, Brotcke accused the town of flagrantly violating its own ordinances, thereby setting a standard of "contempt, mistrust and disobedience for the entire community."

Winn, a retired carpenter, countered that neither he or the town has done anything illegal.

"I was all legal to start with three years ago, but then the council decided I had the wrong peddler's license for the zoning I was selling in," he said. "I told them, ‘Let's go ahead and do what I have to do,' so they gave me a temporary permit which the antique dealer didn't like."

Ray Erlandsen, town zoning administrator, confirmed Winn's version of events.

"Mr. Winn had written permission from the property owner for the display and sales...," Erlandsen told the commission in his report. "He also had applied for and received a peddler's license from the town of Payson and was informed that was all he needed for his sales."

Winn said he has no idea how the council will react to his request, but that "a lot of people from Payson" have told him they will attend and lend support to his cause. He said he also hopes Brotcke will attend.

The Town Council will also consider two resolutions addressing the recent decision by the Gila County Community College Board of Governors to transfer control from Pima Community College to Eastern Arizona College.

The resolutions are the outgrowth of a decision made in executive session before the regular council meeting on April 28.

"In one of them, the council expresses concern publicly that not all proper legal processes were observed and they want that looked at," Carpenter said. "The other has to do with what the council wants from the college, and that could turn out to be an interesting discussion."

The former, Resolution 2063, asks the Arizona attorney general to review not only the college board's actions but also those of the Gila County Board of Supervisors, which approved the college board's decision 2-1 along identical geographic lines.

Specifically, it charges that the college board held limited discussion, "giving the appearance that the decision was orchestrated prior to the official meeting ...." It further accuses the college board of "abdicating its powers and responsibilities" and expresses the council's shock and dismay.

The latter, Resolution 2064, laments that "an unfortunate decision has been made to transfer control over all aspects of the district, including the physical campus, the employees and the curriculum, to powers outside of and unfamiliar with composition and needs of northern Gila County."

It also expresses concern that "the loss of local control ... may negatively impact existing and potential future programs."

Finally, it calls upon EAC to continue to offer these programs and other credited courses that readily transfer to other institutions.

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