Construction Cap Proposed Until Water Picture Clear

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Mayor Bob Edwards presented a plan for Payson Thursday night including an in-depth look at the water situation and an examination of how it should affect future growth.

"What we are dedicated to is finding out what the water (situation) is so we can plan on where we are going," Edwards said.

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Mayor Bob Edwards

Edwards' proposal included a build out game plan, putting an annual limit on the amount of construction.

The proposal to cap construction at 250 residential units each year created the most discussion from the packed council chambers.

The community development department will develop an allocation plan for building permits.

Subdivision home developments currently in the planning stages would be first in line before any further developments would be allowed.

Resident Robert Henley called the 250 number "arbitrary."

"It seems to me it is a moratorium," he said after learning a 50-room unit apartment complex would count as 20 percent of the 250 cap.

"How do you justify that, and what is your reason for it?" he asked.

Council member Tim Fruth said the 250 limit until the town knows more about the water issue seemed fair.

"The 250 just appearing on paper does not seem unreasonable," Fruth said. "(I think) 250 is not as extreme as some might have suggested."

Fruth said his concern is that if there was a subdivision with affordable housing, there should be some sort of an exemption.

Councilor Andy Romance said he would be in favor of the 250 number if the town allowed some creativity. He said if a developer can bring in Blue Ridge water to their construction, the town should work with them.

"Developers can be an asset to our community if we allow creativity," Romance said.

Councilor Mike Vogel pointed out what was being discussed were "marching orders," not something that would take place immediately.

Edwards agreed with Vogel.

"We are trying to develop a game plan for the Town of Payson," the mayor said.

Star Valley

The first step in making a plan for Payson may be to come to an amicable agreement with the neighboring town of Star Valley over the use of water.

The Payson Town Council asked town staff to discuss the following things with Star Valley:

  • Payson will not give away rights, but will work with Star Valley to make a real assessment on the effect of the Tower Well (RH2), and reserves the right to use any excess water that the Safe Yield Study identifies and possibly use deep water if it does not harm shallow water.
  • Payson will expect Star Valley to work with them on joint development of future water.
  • For good neighbor reasons, Payson will shut off the well until the Safe Yield Study is done.

The council directed the community development department to work with Star Valley to develop an agreement of understanding regarding water.

Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron, who attended the meeting, said the area of contention is lower Star Valley in which the town has seen some great decreases in the Tower Well.

"Right now we know we are taking more water than what Mother Nature is putting in," Heron said. He warned the Payson council not to bank on deep water.

"We would like to work with you, but we will be very cautious," Heron said.

Ray Lyons, owner of Star Vale Park in Star Valley, said he has been looking at and measuring water wells for decades.

"I am very cognizant of the water (problems)," he said, and asked the council if it knew the age of the water in question.

Resident Carol Michaels said Lyons made a good point and wanted to know if there was a way to determine the age of the water.

Edwards said answering those questions is part of the goal to get a good picture of the water situation in Payson.

In that vein, the council directed the Payson Water Department to work with the Mayor's Water Task Force to define what is needed to determine Payson's water status and report to the council what they need to complete the task.

The council approved up to $200,000 to make this assessment, which could take up to two years to complete, and Payson will halt any future development that has yet to begin.

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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