Fire Break Awaiting Final Approval

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The progress of Payson's fire fuel-reduction project will be discussed Thursday evening at the Payson Town Council's regular meeting.

The county and the town each gave the Payson Fire Department $50,000 for the fire break program. Fire Chief Marty deMasi will update the Council on the project's progress.

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Payson Fire Chief Marty deMasi

Before work can begin on the fire break, deMasi must formalize the permit process with the Forest Service, and present to Gila County its financial plan.

"It's just a formality," deMasi said. "(The county) wanted an agreement that the town will spend it only on the fire break."

Tonto Apache Tribe is expected to provide funding and several private contributions, amounting to roughly $50,000, that will help cover expenses.

"We've had the idea of a fuel break for quite a few years and the hang up has been money," deMasi said.

The width of the fuel break spans 100 yards across and covers 350 acres surrounding Payson and the adjacent federal forest.

To clear the undergrowth, firefighters will remove chest-high trees, fewer than 9 inches in diameter.

After the lanes have been cleared and the debris burned by prison inmates, the break will take on a park-like setting with trees and open areas.

DeMasi estimates a total cost of $220,000.

"It's a fantastic project because all these partners are in on it," said deMasi. "It's a beautiful thing as far as interagency cooperation."

Though the federal government has not yet contributed to this effort, deMasi added, Head Ranger Ed Armenta is hoping to match the county's ante.

Horton rezoning

The agenda moves from fire to town planning when the council opens the floor to public comment regarding a subdivision at 2009 N. McLane Road.

Developer Mike Horton seeks to change the zoning of 8.2 acres slated for development.

The rezoning will accommodate 35 single-family detached lots and two tracts. As it stands, the zoning dictates one home per 4 acres.

The rezoning would allow one house per 6,000 square feet.

"If the town were to say ‘no,' (Horton could) come back with another plan," Town Manager Fred Carpenter has said. "If you don't have new water, you can only do a 20-lot subdivision. This (rezoning) would require new water."

Residents interested in testifying are invited to submit statements in writing or appear in person.

Impact fees

Impact fees, an issue related to development, makes its way to the agenda when the town reconsiders the current fee structure.

Back in 1996, the Development Impact Fee Program outlined the amount the town should levy developers to build homes and businesses. The town chose to charge less than the study suggested.

Impact fees cover the municipal infrastructure costs associated with new projects.

The town currently charges $5,032 for streets, water hookups and so on. The council will discuss raising these fees.

The Payson Town Council meets at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 13 in Town Hall Council Chambers, 303 N. Beeline Highway.

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