There are a number of misconceptions about the 17-Point Water Growth Plan passed 7-0 by the Payson Town Council in August.
The plan is a compromise aimed at putting the water-growth war to rest, so Payson can move on to other important issues like developing a dynamic economic climate and moving to make Payson once again the "Fun Center of Arizona."
We have people at both ends of the growth spectrum. At one end are those who basically want no growth and those at the other end who want uncontrolled growth. Most citizens want something in between, but clearly want growth to be controlled and planned.
In addition, we are in a drought and are mining water. No one can define when the drought will end, and we have studies like the Arizona State University study suggesting that our current weather is the norm and the last century was abnormal. This council is committed to defining our current water status and developing a clear plan for the future.
Merriam Webster defines compromise as, "Something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things." This plan tries to do that.
While clearly, developers, real estate agents and brokers may be better off financially if we have no controls, and the people at the other end are more satisfied with no growth, the council is faced with finding a fair balance.
What we passed in August is a plan and a council commitment to the citizens of Payson.
We now need to put the proper ordinances in place to complete that commitment. While there will be disagreements on some points and some compromises will need to be made, I am confident the council will fulfill the overall commitment.
At the Oct. 5 council meeting, three major pieces of the plan were submitted for public hearing and first reading:
1. Ordinance 694 requires a two thirds vote (5 votes) to change zoning.
- The zoning map is a promise to the citizens and any zoning change is a major alteration to that map. Thus, any proposed change should have a definite reason and should be harder to approve than just a simple majority vote.
- Additionally, a large group of people want to require a super majority (six votes) to pass a zoning change and were about to start an initiative to do it. I convinced them to settle for this "compromise." But, to achieve that settlement, I agreed to support their effort if I am unsuccessful with the compromise.
- There were a number of speakers who opposed this, but, in reality, the options are between five votes, if the 17-Point Plan is approved, or six if done by initiative.
2. Ordinance 695 limits new residential units to 250 per year.
- In the past six years, the average number of new units was 249 per year.
- If you exclude 2005 (an abnormal year because of two apartment complexes), the number for the prior five years was 223. Therefore, a limit to 250 units should not be a burden. This allows for us to continue growing at our historic rate and allows for the town's infrastructure to keep up with planned growth.
- A controlled plan to build out will keep our local construction workers employed longer and not require importing workers from the Valley.
- Ordinance 696 will remove the "Bring Your Own Water" ordinance. This will only be done if Ordinance 694 and 695 are adopted. The town's water department will be responsible for developing and delivering new water resources.
Again, we need to remember that the Town of Payson is made up of a lot of different groups wanting different things and the council is striving for a "compromise."
The council has pledged to fulfill the desires of the majority and do what is best for the future of Payson. I feel the "Smart Growth to Build out Plan" is step toward achieving the pledge.