During three hours of public testimony Thursday night, the members of the Payson Town Council listened without speaking.
Mayor Bob Edwards promised the standing room only audience that the council would refrain from commenting or voting on three controversial agenda items. The ordinances on Thursday's agenda are part of the council's 17-part comprehensive plan to keep growth within the confines of the area's water supply.
People from all areas of the Payson community showed up to express their opinion.
Local engineer Joel Mona said that though he makes his living off growth, the town is outgrowing its water supply.
"I think limiting growth based on the available water is an appropriate and prudent way to go at this time," he said.
Some worried that, if passed, the ordinances would damage the town's economy.
"Construction is the hub of employment here," real estate agent Beth Myers said.
"It is the largest factor of our work force and not the evil monster."
The council has proposed three ordinances to slow development until the amount of water available to the town is determined.
Ordinance 694 shifts the voting composition of the council to a two-thirds majority for all zoning changes, something addressed in the town's Unified Development Code and in state law.
"We already have something in place by state statute," Robert Henley said. "There's no reason to add an additional hurdle to rezoning."
Town residents discussed several concerns with Ordinance 695. It caps new residential projects at 250 building units, not permits, a year.
The ordinance also said the town won't accept rezoning applications not contained in the "Dynamic Catalog" -- a list of housing subdivisions in different stages of development approved at the Sept. 7 council meeting.
After the public comment period ended, Councilor John Wilson said the Dynamic Catalog section of the ordinance had been misrepresented -- it's a flexible list, not static, as is written in the ordinance.
Longtime resident Pat Willis said the ordinance uses artificial economic controls instead of allowing supply and demand to dictate the market.
Ordinance 696 calls for the revocation of the town's Equivalent Residential Unit rule, a code that requires developers to seek water sources for larger projects.
The ordinance attempts to describe how it puts the town back into the water business.
Local architect Rex Hinshaw asked the council to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed changes.
Edwards said the council would meet again with the public over the next two weeks during work study sessions to agree on compromises and hone the wording.
Town manager clarifies council voting ordinance
The current zoning code requires a simple majority of the council, four to three, to adopt a zoning ordinance to rezone a parcel.
According to the Unified Development Code, if there are protests that meet the 20-percent criteria, then pursuant to state law, it takes a three-fourth vote of the council to rezone a parcel, and in no case can a rezoning that has a legal protest pass with fewer than four votes.
The proposed change contemplated in Ordinance 694 -- one of the three ordinances discussed Thursday evening -- would change the rules for adopting a zoning change to require a two-thirds vote.
That works out to five out of seven if all members are present and none have a conflict. The voting ratio drops to four out of six if one member has a conflict or is absent.
In no case under Ordinance 694 could a zoning change be approved with fewer than four votes.
The word "supermajority" is not a legal term. It is often used to describe any majority that is more than a simple majority.