Town Attorney Sam Streichman issued a statement this past week clarifying Ordinance 696 -- one of the three proposed growth-management town codes set for public deliberation at the Nov. 2 Payson Town Council meeting.
Ordinance 696 removes a town policy that forces builders to find dedicated water supplies for housing and commercial projects over a certain number of units, called the Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) rule.
An ERU is the amount of water required to serve a residential unit in any peak month with 7,500 gallons of drinkable water. Currently, a housing development of more than 20 homes -- one home per ERU --requires the developer to secure a water source.
The town defines other single-units of developments under the ERU rule: 1.5 apartments, townhouse or condominium units; 2.2 motel rooms (without spas); 3 nursing home beds; 5,000 square feet of professional office space; or 7,500 square feet of retail merchandising space.
Town Manager Fred Carpenter said that although the ERU rule was passed with good intentions, its consequences have aggravated the affordable housing shortage by encouraging developers -- who didn't want the responsibility of finding new water sources -- to build on larger lots.
And although the new policy will slow current projects, incoming developers and subdivisions will experience the most impact.
"This will primarily affect new development," Streichman said.
The Payson Town Council, staff and local residents are in the process of compromising on the details of the three growth-management ordinances. The public will have an opportunity to provide input at the Nov. 2 council meeting.
Town legal department clarification for common questions
Question: If ERU limitation is removed for commercial projects, is the determination of the number of ERUs and payment of water development fees for a commercial project bases upon an administrative calculation at the time a building permit is issued?
Answer: Although the ERU portion of town code would be removed if the council passes Ordinance 696, the town's water development fees of $3,875 per unit stay intact. If the council passes Ordinance 696, the builder would still be responsible for this cost, however, the onus of providing water for certain projects that fit within the code's criteria will fall on the town, not the developer.
Question: If a person replaces an existing building/development with a new building/development, is the replacement subject to a new water development fee?
Answer: Water development fees do not apply if the replacement building meets a three-part test:
1. The property must be receiving or have previously received metered water service from the town.
2. The development/building must not increase the number of ERUs used on the property.
3. Water development fees for the ERUs used must have been paid.
Based on these criteria, any replacement buildings/developments will fall into one of three categories.
- If all three of the requirements are not met, no new water development fees are required.
- If the replacement building/development uses more water than the prior use, an increase in fees will be assessed based on the usage.
- If requirement one and three aren't met, the replacement must pay the town's water development fee when the building permit is obtained.
Question: What happens to the 60 ERU limit in the Green Valley Redevelopment Area?
Answer: There would be no ERU limit in GVRA.
Green Valley Redevelopment Area follows a different set of water-usage guidelines.
For more information, contact the town's legal department at (928) 474-5242.