The Payson Town Council voted against the zoning change of a 54-unit residential housing development proposed by Terra-Payson 65, LLC.
Payson community development director Jerry Owen presented the project, called Forest Edge, and comprised of 64 acres at the end of East Phoenix Street.
Twenty-two percent of the land is set aside for permanent open space, another 29 percent is earmarked as undeveloped land protected by deed restrictions, and 10 percent is designated for private use.
Mark Perry, owner of the property, said the intent of the plan included the aesthetic and environmental preservation of hillsides and other heavily forested areas.
"We did go out of our way to preserve the forestation," Perry said. "Clearly our intent meets (the Unified Development Code) in terms of open space."
The developer planned each lot with a cushion of the natural landscape around the home, set aside chunks of land protected from development throughout the subdivision, and provided access to trailheads from the area.
Perry also said the developers will deed trail space within the subdivision to the town.
Councilors Dick Reese and Andy Romance said they objected to the plan's interpretation of open space. Much of the protected land within the subdivision is restricted from private and public use.
"Open spaces are open to all property owners," Reese said. "I don't see free and unrestricted areas."
Payson's Unified Building Code provides a vague definition of what's called open, common space -- a requirement of the R1-44 PAD zoning requested by the developer.
Common space, Romance said, benefits the community, and if the community can't access most of the open space, the terms of the UDC haven't been sufficiently addressed in the plan.
Vice Mayor Judy Buettner supported the project and its attempt to preserve the natural landscape.
"I just don't see anything wrong with this," she said.
But, the five council members who voted for the project said they were disappointed. When more than 20 percent of the neighbors object to a proposed zoning, the council is compelled to accept the project by a super majority -- six to one.
The two dissenting votes of Romance and Reese fell short of this requirement.
The developers will now return to the drawing board, rework the plan and resubmit the project for zoning approval.
Payson Town Council Action May 11
The Issue: The approval of a bid for synthetic turf requested by the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.
How it affects the community: Two bids were submitted for the project. Though the one bid from the turf company, Sportex, came in lower, Parks and Rec Director Bill Schwind lobbied for the more expensive bid of $517.85 from FieldTurf. FieldTurf's durability, seaming and maintenance is superior to Sportex, he said.
The next step: Most of the money for the project comes out of impact fees generated by development.
The Issue: The approval of the bid of $113,772 by RCO Reforesting to begin the fuel break around Payson.
How it affects the community: The Payson Fire Department is still waiting to receive funding from the Tribe and the Rim Club, but Captain Mike Winters said, the area slated for the initial clearing is a higher risk area. Councilor Romance said he is pleased that the fire break will also serve as an opportunity to create an urban trail system.
The next step: The council will release contingency funds to finance some of the project -- clearing begins in the next couple of weeks.
The Issue: The implementation of a drainage project at the north end of town near Payson Ranchos and Payson Pines.
How it affects the community: Public Works engineer LaRon Garrett said the department seeks to gain easements along private property lines to install a drainpipe to relieve drainage issues. A similar project proposed in the 1990s met with resistance. Part of the plan is determining how much money the town has for the project, including condemnation costs.
The next step: If the town can't rally neighborhood support, it will condemn the area needed for the easements -- this option could cost the town upward of $100,000.
The Issue: The creation of a policy to address the town's speeding problem.
How it affects the community: Initially, the council asked Public Works engineer LaRon Garrett to look into installing speed bumps on the most dangerous streets, specifically McLane Road. Garrett said the bumps could cost between $2,000 and $10,000.
The next step: Although a grant is in the works to secure the funding for a photo radar device, it could be another year before the money is released.