Still Asking, 'Where Is The Water?'

FROM TOP COUNCIL

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In my first six weeks as a Payson town council member, it has been energizing to me to be involved in so many matters that I have researched for residents -- everything from the size of native trees that need a permit to be cut (six inches across), abandoned trailers, half-finished homes to the music at the Saturday night concerts.

I've had open meeting hours at Town Hall, but they weren't well-publicized or attended.

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Ed Blair

So, reassessing, I invite your comments to my town e-mail address eblair@ci.payson.az.us, town address of 303 N. Beeline, or my town phone, 474-5242, ext.201.

One of the challenges of our role as council members is that we can't talk to more than two others on the same issue without it being a violation of the open meeting law.

We can't e-mail more than two others if we have a brilliant proposal, several of which we all seven have.

The open meeting law has a good intent -- that public business must be done in public. The downside is that I don't know even the questions of four other members in advance of the council meetings.

In past meetings, I've been so impressed by two comments that I can't forget them: Councilman Mike Vogel said, in regard to the Senior Center discussion, "Nobody should go hungry. I want to support the meals programs." And when we were discussing Payson help for the police coverage in Star Valley, Councilman Andy Romance said, "I would rather error on the side of humanity."

Isn't it interesting how diverse our interests and votes have been?

With the previous council, there were a lot of predictable votes. Now, because most of us are so independent, in these first six weeks, there have been 6-1, 5-2 and 4-3 votes ... with totally different combinations of members.

In the first column by one of us (I looked it up so I would know what to write), Councilor Su Connell wrote that our diverse town council would "attract, grow and retain businesses."

I hope she is correctly prophetic.

While I have been watching council business very closely these past eight months, I have seen precious few new businesses. (I've been to the opening of two businesses, Main Street Grille and Cozy Corner, in former business locations.)

But, while there has been little new business and no industry to my knowledge, many, many new homes have occupied the agendas.

At our June 1 "work study" meeting, proposals represented a total of 241 residences. Of those, 55 have been denied. The concern I've had since past October has not changed: Where is the water source for all of this? Most of it is projected from the well in Star Valley.

When I talked to many of you before the election, you were opposed to supplying new homes with water from that source, even if the contract is legally signed.

Well, what do you think about the next proposals our council has to deal with?

On July 27, we are voting on a preliminary plat for 121 new homes. Its managing members are Diversified Capital Development of Scottsdale and Terra Capital LLC of Payson, the developer of the Star Valley water supply.

Terra also sold the property behind Bashas' and Sears with 36 acres. The talk is that there will be 440 condos proposed there.

Is the water assured? I don't think so.

The safe yield study has not yet been done.

Should we just keep conserving and conserving and cutting back so these out-of-town developers can build new homes and make a windfall profit? If these two large subdivisions are approved, then we'll know that not every drop counts.

Going forward with those two subdivisions will make a mockery of "Every drop counts."

If you residents of Payson have opinions on those proposals, then you can attend the meeting on July 27 and voice your opinion lest this pass through council like it passed through Planning and Zoning.

Or, use e-mail or letter mail. Direct your comments to Community Development Director Jerry Owen, 303 N. Beeline, Payson, AZ 85541 (or e-mail him at jowen@ci.payson.az.us).

He will collate the comments for the council to read prior to the meeting.

If there are only 10 comments, it won't impress us. Do it quickly by July 25.

It will be refreshing to get on to other matters.

-- This column runs once a month and is written by rotating members of the Payson Town Council.

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