New Commercial Development Slow In Payson

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While the number of housing developments soar, commercial development is slow in Payson these days.

Lori Bernhardt, whose firm BP Properties owns the strip mall at the corner of highways 260 and 87, said a few commercial chains have approached her about leasing space.

The location that housed the Goodwill, she said, wasn't big enough for her potential clients.

"I've had a couple of major people approach me and for one reason or another we didn't have enough space for them," Bernhardt said. "I think it'd be great to get more people up here. (Businesses) look only at the people in Payson and not at the surrounding communities."

She also said the construction boom has created a void of qualified contractors and that's slowed down business.

Community Development Director Jerry Owen said the interest in Payson commercial opportunities will come around, especially with the help of a healthy affordable housing market.

Payson's commercial development operates on a cycle, he said.

In the 10 months since Owen has been employed by the town, few large-scale commercial projects have made it past development services.

Since the end of July 2006 -- the latest data available -- the town has issued 11 commercial permits. But, Owen said, most of those include additions and remodels.

The process to approve commercial projects, if zoning is needed, can take up to eight months. In many instances, especially along the Beeline Highway corridor, the land is appropriately designated commercial and the plans take less approval time.

If the plans require zoning, the town outlays several steps. Staff and public meetings, design review, and council and plat approvals are part of the process.

Before a building permit is granted, the developer or landowner presents a conceptual site plan to representatives of the town departments, including the police, fire and public works departments.

These individuals review the plans and ensure that the applicant abides by the town's guidelines.

The community development department oversees code enforcement, zoning and the administration of plan reviews. Buzz Walker and LaRon Garret, public works director and town engineer, make sure the proper water fixtures are installed, the rights of way are in compliance with code and drainage is sufficient for the project.

Commercial projects, according the Unified Development Code (UDC), must meet standards that don't apply to residential developments: Covers on lighting, pedestrian-friendly landscaping, appropriate signage, and a compatibility with the character of the Rim Country.

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