Design Committee Would Steer Appearance Of Town

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The Payson Town Council Thursday night discussed an ordinance that could lead to a design and review board for the town.

A few residents spoke out against the proposal.

Jim Garner told the council that it was proposing a regulatory board that makes its own rules.

"I don't understand what we are looking at," he said, mentioning that the ordinance allows committee members on this proposed board to live outside of Payson.

"This needs to be looked at," Garner said. "What are we trying to accomplish?"

Councilor Tim Fruth wondered why non-Payson residents would be allowed to serve on this board.

Town Attorney Sam Streichman said the ordinance was written in this way to give a person outside Payson with a lot of expertise on certain topics a chance to serve. He added that, of course, is a council decision.

Fruth said all Town boards should be comprised of Payson residents.

Councilors Ed Blair and Su Connell mentioned that nonresidents with experience could serve on the board in an advisory role, as a compromise.

Under the proposed ordinance, the design review board would make final decisions about the look of new buildings and signs.

Those rulings could be appealed to the council.

Jeanie Langham, chairwoman of the mayor's design and review task force, said there is a need for a design and review commission.

"We do need design and review oversight," she said, adding that out of town residents should be able to serve on the board if they make their living in Payson.

Mayor Bob Edwards said there are times when there is a need to tap into someone's experience from nearby communities.

Garner said, having all seven design board members from other nearby communities scares him.

Edwards mentioned one of the goals of a proposed board is to find ways to give the town a face-lift on the south side where visitors enter town from the Valley.

Steve Christensen, who owns two pieces of commercial property, said he did not want a new board or commission to be heavy-handed.

Langham said that was not the task force's intent.

She said the town merely needs to start looking better.

Councilor John Wilson said people on this committee or board would need some link within the town.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter mentioned that when he was in Wickenburg, it was allowed to have two to three people from outside the town to serve on a board like this one.

Fruth said that in the past, Payson has bowed down to large businesses coming in, and that the town needs to stop doing this.

"We need to tell them what we want," he said.

The council directed town staff to work on the proposal and bring it back to them at its March 1 meeting.

The council also held a public hearing concerning a notice of intention to increase development fees not to exceed $808 per residential unit for public safety, $41,508 for parks and recreation and $1,235 for streets.

Several members of the council thought the fees were too high, but were told it was the maximum, and that it would be their final decision on the amount.

The council will discuss the impact fees again in March.

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