Council Approves 2 Growth Ordinances

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The Payson Town Council voted to untable and approve two growth-management ordinances at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday.

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Mark Perry, left, and Steve Carder represent Terra Capital Group at Thursday's council meeting.

Councilor John Wilson made a motion to separate the three ordinances and consider each item individually rather than as one piece of legislation.

Ordinance 695 sets a 250-housing unit limit annually. When the original documentation was presented earlier this past fall, some councilors and members of the public said they were concerned about the impact such a code would have on current projects.

As a compromise, the council decided to create a dynamic list of residential projects that had started the planning process.

Wilson said he was concerned that the wording in Ordinance 695 was still too rigid.

"This is a management tool, not a prohibition," he said.

The current proposal calls for a first-come, first-served basis for building permit allocation, but Vice Mayor Tim Fruth said the council should reconsider its decision to impose artificial controls on the local economy.

"One of the unintended consequences would be uncontrolled demand," Fruth added. The strategy is to avert panic from builders. As the information from Payson's upcoming safe yield study comes in, the building department, town staff and its elected officials will determine whether the current 250 limit is appropriate.

The council also passed Ordinance 696 that repeals the 20 ERU rule, which controlled growth by requiring developers to secure water sources. Ordinance 694 stays on the table until the council can learn more about restructuring the voting composition of its members. The revised language would require two-thirds majority vote for all rezoning applications.

Developers also have more time to redeem ERU credits purchased from the Tower well agreement. Payson will apply the dollar amount of each ERU against the cost of water impact fees.

Forest Edge

The rezoning application for Forest Edge residential housing project passed the council unanimously.

It's been more than a year since the developers submitted the Forest Edge rezoning application.

Over the months, the council has subjected the project to tight scrutiny. Forest Edge is one of the controversial subdivisions that sparked political and public ire with its allocation of Tower Well ERUs.

It defined this past election and sparked the creation of Star Valley. In November, the council requested further concessions by the developer, Terra Capital Group.

The council asked the developers to provide more open space, donate a portion of its water credits to Habitat for Humanity's proposed multifamily housing project and fix drainage issues on the 64-acre property.

Councilor Ed Blair asked representatives of the firm, Steve Carder and Mark Perry, to offer public assurances that they would fix the drainage issue if their project was passed, and although the developers agreed, they are legally limited.

The legal issue will be worked out for releasing Terra Capital Group from legal responsibility as the project now moves toward the preliminary plat phase.

Buzz Walker, public works director, also said there could be an issue with the transferability of the water credits.

Other council actions:

  • Approved a motion to allow the Arizona Department of Transportation to conduct a feasibility study of an alternate route/highway bypass.
  • Approved the Chilson Ranch site plan.
  • Directed staff to create policy for newly-acquired rights-of-way signage and landscaping.

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