Growth Plan Revisited

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Three proposed growth-management ordinances that stirred up controversy and filled council chambers with spectators nearly a month ago are back on the agenda for council consideration Thursday evening.

Ordinances 694, 695 and 696, tabled at the Oct. 5 Payson Town Council meeting, will, if passed, redefine the future of Payson's economic development, housing market and growth plan.

The council tabled the vote after ire from the business community forced the council to negotiate the terms of the pending agenda items.

Ordinance 694

The current zoning code requires a simple majority of the council, four to three, to approve a rezoning application. The proposed changes in 694 modify the Unified Development Code from a three-fourths to two-thirds majority vote.

In simple terms, the proposed ordinance will require fewer votes to pass land rezoning, however, the ultimate outcome lies in perspective.

Mayor Bob Edwards said the ordinance is designed to give the council an opportunity to scrutinize future developments.

Requiring five votes instead of four to pass a zoning change does create more challenges for builders. On the flip side, securing two council votes against rezoning is easier than nailing down three.

Ordinance 695

If passed, 695 will replace the town's 10-year-old growth-management policy that requires builders to develop their own water source if a planned subdivision calls for more than 20 units.

In its place, the town will implement a building cap of 250-units -- not building permits --per year.

The math will be adjusted for new multifamily projects, such as apartments. This means, a developer planning to build a 10-unit apartment complex will be counted as using only five building units, leaving 245 units available for other projects per calendar year.

Exemptions include those already in the pipeline or on the town's "Dynamic Reference List," work force housing, as defined by federal guidelines, and builders who pay an additional $2,500 water development contribution per unit.

If passed, the ordinance becomes effective Jan. 1, 2007 and expires Dec. 31, 2007, renewable by council approval.

Ordinance 696

For years, town code required development to pay for itself through the 20 Equivalent Residential Unit rule. This code forced builders to guarantee a reliable source of water for housing projects comprised of more than 20 units. The town, Edwards said, is "back in the water business."

Impact, or water development fees, for each unit still apply.

According to the proposed ordinance, builders can provide their own water in lieu of paying recapture fees, however, the water credits derived from such an agreement are nontransferable.

Community Trails Network

Councilor Andy Romance has supported the establishment of a network of trails in and around Payson, stemming from a related trails master plan approved in 1998. Over the years, portions of the master plan have been implemented, but not as a comprehensive plan. Romance is asking the council to create and adopt an updated Trails Master Plan. The proposal includes a local trails system that incorporates pedestrian, horse and bicycle paths along with fire safety features.

The town council meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at town hall. To download a copy of the agenda and its related documents, visit www.ci.payson.az.us.

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