The proposed Mogollon Ridge subdivision awaits the Payson Town Council when it convenes for its first meeting of 2006 Thursday evening.
The subdivision, which developer G. Michael Horton pulled from a recent agenda, is up for rezoning, but nearby homeowners hope the petition they submitted to the town will invoke the state's supermajority requirement. According to A.R.S. 9-462.04, "if the owners of twenty percent or more either of the area of the lots included in a proposed change, or of those immediately adjacent in the rear or any side thereof extending one hundred fifty feet therefrom, or of those directly opposite thereto extending one hundred fifty feet from the street frontage of the opposite lots, file a protest in writing against a proposed amendment, it shall not become effective except by the favorable vote of three-fourths of all members of the governing body of the municipality."
If Councilor Tim Fruth recuses himself, as he has done on issues involving Horton in the past, the law requires "three-fourths of the remaining members" must vote for approval of the zoning change if it is to be enacted.
Lori Meyers, a homeowner who lives in the area, organized the effort.
"I went and got all the signatures on the petition to force them into having the supermajority," Meyers said. "We got well over what we needed; people were more than happy to sign."
Meyers said she wouldn't be surprised if the council tried to circumvent the law.
"They always try to get around it," she said. "That's just a given."
Meyers also said she planned to circulate fliers encouraging her neighbors to attend the meeting. She said her group's major objection is water.
"I know they say Horton is bringing this water in from Star Valley, but that could get tied up in court," she said. "If they continue to approve these projects and encourage him without solving the problem, then the town could get stuck having to provide water to these subdivisions from an already stressed out system.
"The town is not solving the water problem; they're putting it off on developers. There's a lot of talk but talk is cheap."
Horton, who has the council's approval to build a pipeline to take water from Star Valley for Mogollon Ridge and two other subdivisions, seeks a change in zoning classification from R1-175 to R1-6. The requested zoning change reduces the required residential lot size from 175,000 square feet (300 X 300 feet) to 6,000 square feet (60 X 90 feet).
Already a controversial topic, the matter was made more so last month when only two members of the seven-member planning and zoning commission made the decision to recommend the change to the council.
If the zoning change is granted, Horton plans to build a 35-lot subdivision on 8.2 acres of land behind The Home Depot at 2009 N. McLane Road and 215 W. Houston Mesa Road.
Horton originally submitted, then withdrew, a similar rezoning request for 12.4 acres at the same address. According to planning and zoning, he plans to submit the balance of the parcel for rezoning at a future date.
The developer's plans have stirred up considerable controversy because of his intention to take water from a private well in Star Valley to meet the town's building requirements, and because some Payson residents believe the town should not rezone parcels for higher density, especially when residents invested in neighborhoods they believed would retain their rural character.
When the matter came before planning and zoning on Nov. 14, two members were absent and another two claimed a conflict of interest. Deputy Town Attorney Tim Wright told the commission that since a quorum was present at the beginning of the meeting, the remaining members could render a decision.
"As long as you have a quorum to start the meeting, which you did, if several members have conflicts on any one issue, the remaining members can address that issue," Wright told the commission.
With "yes" votes from commissioners Barbara Underwood and Mark Waldrop, the rezoning request was passed on to the council. The other two projects Horton wants to utilize Star Valley water to build are Forest Edge, a 64-acre, 54-homesite subdivision at the southeast end of Payson, and the Buckmaster property, 37 acres behind Bashas' supermarket.
Also on the abbreviated council agenda for Thursday evening:
- A second reading and public hearing for a zone change that will allow a 30-unit condominium subdivision to be built at 1900 N. Beeline Highway between The Home Depot and Ponderosa Baptist Church.
- Approval of the preliminary plat for Falcon View Subdivision, a 19-lot subdivision at 1000 N. Falconcrest Drive north of Sherwood Drive.
- A presentation by Attorney General Terry Goddard on the state's methamphetamine problem.
- Approval of an intergovernmental agreement with ADOT for phase 4 of the McLane Road project.
"That's for the next leg of McLane Road -- a total rebuild from Forest to Airport," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said.
"We'll be bidding that in late February, early March. We're moving forward on that."