Council Votes Down Controversial Subdivision

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The Payson Town Council Thursday evening voted down the second-reading rezoning request for the subdivision that sparked the creation of a new town and defined an election.

The 35-unit, 8.2-acre Mogollon Ridge subdivision proposed by the Payson Development Group -- with an average price of $300,000 a home -- fell at the hands of a five to two supermajority decision. Mayor Bob Edwards and councilor Ed Blair dissented.

Back in early 2005, a group of Star Valley residents rallied against the Payson Development Group and its principal, Michael Horton, because the development firm secured a water source on private land located in Star Valley.

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Michael Horton

Because Mogollon Ridge comprised more than 20 units, town code mandated the Payson Development Group to guarantee a water supply that could sustain a 7,500-gallon-per-month consumption per household.

As a result, the town of Star Valley formed to prevent the well-pumping, and during the 2006 general election many candidates campaigned against this type of growth.

Mark Perry said his development firm had fulfilled the requirements requested by the town and had worked with local residents to allay their concerns.

"We're trying to fit in as an extension of the existing neighborhood," Perry said.

But, many of the residents in the adjacent Payson Pines and Payson Ranchos neighborhoods said reservations over drainage problems, traffic and water consumption still lingered.

"Somewhere along the line we need to solve this problem and be serious about (water) instead of rubber stamping homes like we're going crazy here," said resident Lori Myers. "One of these days we're going to turn our tap on and there's not going to be anything there."

The project is dead unless the developer retools the subdivision and starts the planning and zoning process over again. The developer alternatively can decide to redesign the subdivision to fall under the town's 20 equivalent residential unit rule, which means, fewer, more expensive houses on larger lots.

Councilor Andy Romance asked the council to reconsider the rezoning request of the Forest Edge subdivision, another project associated with Horton's development firm, at the end of Phoenix Street.

The council voted to reconsider with a six-to-one vote. Edwards, who lives next to the proposed project and said he harbors no conflict of interest, voted against it.

But, the councilors asked for more time to review the project and tabled the rezoning hearing until July 13 with a five-to-two motion. Edwards and Blair voted "no."

Three other projects, based on council approval, will move to the next stages of development:

  • Manzanita Hills Phase Six

The preliminary plat will move into the final platting process upon the council's five to two vote with Blair and Edwards dissenting.

Blair said he voted against the project because the secured water source comes from the well in Star Valley.

Manzanita Hills Phase Six is being developed by Bruce Griffin, a member of a limited liability company associated with Horton and Steve Carder's Terra Capital Group. Griffin must address two issues above and beyond the existing 14 stipulations required for final plat approval. He must pave Fawn Drive connecting to Green Valley Park and provide a repair bond in the event of damage resulting from construction.

  • Mazatzal Mountain Air Park Unit 6

This 41-unit subdivision of hangar homes next to the Payson Municipal Airport, will proceed to the final platting phase after a six-to-one vote of approval. Blair dissenting.

  • Bonita Pines Condominiums

The council unanimously approved this 26-unit condominium proposed by USA Realty -- final platting moves forward for council approval later this month.

Mayor Edwards said he'll put together an Ethics Task Force, headed by Payson resident Al Poskanzer, to address an ethics policy that will apply to town staff and elected officials, and the council voted unanimously to approve a town code change that will move town council meetings to 5 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month, not effective until September.

-- To reach Felicia Megdal call 474-5251, ext. 116 or e-mail fmegdal@payson.com.

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