New Mayor, Council Taking Seats Early

Town attorney sent out memo with change May 22

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Bob Edwards will be sworn into office tonight, Tuesday, along with three newly elected council members -- Ed Blair, Su Connell and Mike Vogel. They will take office at the next council meeting, scheduled for Wednesday night.

Originally, the mayor-elect and three council members-to-be were scheduled to be sworn in June 8, but Payson town code instructs that elected council members should "assume the duties of office at the regularly scheduled meeting next following the date of the general election at which the council members were elected."

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Town Attorney Sam Streichman

Town Attorney Sam Streichman was shown the code section by "one of the people affiliated with the newly elected camp," he said.

On May 22, Streichman sent out a memo to the current mayor and town council, Town Manager Fred Carpenter and Town Clerk Silvia Smith, explaining the code and suggesting the newly elected mayor and council should take office May 24.

Streichman was unsure why council members in past elections had been sworn in the first week of June, "but it isn't in compliance with our code."

As of Tuesday morning, Edwards said he had not heard of the change.

Blair refused to comment.

Connell found out about the change at 9 p.m. Monday night.

"I think it's a backhanded move, legal or not," Connell said. "People had arrangements for family. I had a brother coming in.

"I thought we were going to be trained as a group on how to act." Training for the newly elected council members is scheduled for June 9 and 10.

Vogel could not be reached for comment.

At Wednesday night's meeting, the new council could take a second look at a rezoning request for a 54-unit residential subdivision that failed a supermajority or three-fourths majority vote at the council's May 11 meeting.

To revive this project in its current incarnation, Andy Romance, who decided against the rezoning, must make a motion to add the item to the agenda.

If that doesn't happen, Forest Edge, a 64-acre plot of undeveloped land that runs adjacent to Cedar Lane and past the end of Phoenix Street in southeast Payson, returns to the developer's drawing table.

In the case of Forest Ridge -- which seeks higher density zoning from one house per 4 acres to one house per acre -- the planning and zoning commission compelled the developers, Terra Capital Group, to comply with nine conditions, one of which designated 20 percent of the land as open space.

Romance, at the May 11 council meeting, said most of that land -- comprised of building envelopes and pocket parks -- was inaccessible to the public.

With new members on the council, the agenda item still requires a six to one majority to pass, because of the protest from adjacent property owners.

"If the rest of the council votes for reconsideration, the development still has the same problem," said Town Manager Fred Carpenter.

The council must vote on two rezoning readings before a project can move into preliminary and final platting.

If Romance, however, changes his mind, the council can consider the rezoning application, hold a public meeting and vote on it.

"You can do that at the same meeting," Carpenter said.

Meanwhile, two other projects -- one located at 2009 N. McLane Road and the other on Tyler Parkway -- head to the council for final adoption of the rezoning resolutions, also known as second readings.

The Payson Town Council meeting has been moved to Wednesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. out of consideration for the Thursday Payson High School graduation ceremony.

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