Smooth Sailing And Messy Paperwork For Projects

Planning commission approves one subdivision, objects to staff notes on another

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The 83-home, recently renamed Mogollon Ridge subdivision picked up momentum last week with quick action by the Payson Planning and Zoning Commission, but another luxury lot split hit a paperwork snag.

The planning commission approved the site plan for the mix of townhouses and single-family units at McLane and Houston Mesa Roads, after adding a requirement for a wall along the border with Home Depot.

But the commissioners also asked why developer Mike Horton changed the name of the project to Flowing Wells.

"The name ‘Mogollon Ridge' had a long and venerable history," said Horton delicately, referring to the years of disputes with neighbors that had stalled the project before Horton agreed to put up $200,000 to help solve existing flooding problems affecting a dozen homes.

But since Mayor Bob Edwards revived the development through months of shuttle diplomacy involving the neighborhood and the developers, the subdivision plans have moved smoothly through the town process. The key shift lay in the developer's promise to solve offsite drainage problems, in return for not having to build lot-consuming retention basins required under a new town drainage ordinance.

The council approved a rezoning for the property, and the town's housing committee also signed off after Horton promised to offer low-cost financing on at least four of the units to ensure they were "affordable" for a family making $60,000 -- which passes for low-cost housing in Payson.

The planning commission on Monday, March 10, added another round of approvals, after asking Horton to put up a wall along the top of a hill on the east side of the property.

The commission's discussion of the second development of the afternoon didn't go so smoothly.

Jarial LLC sought council approval to create five, approximately two-acre lots in a subdivision at 509 N. Chaparral Pines Drive. The land sold in 2005 for about $865,000.

The 10-page staff report noted that the developer would be required to meet the town's tough new drainage standard, which requires a 25-percent reduction in runoff. That will require retention basins on the property.

However, several commissioners took exception to the staff report, which included notes suggesting that certain language or conditions were "not acceptable."

"You're making it awful hard for me to understand my job -- there are an awful lot of inferences between you and the developer," said Commissioner James Scheidt.

"It would be approval with a stipulation the note is unacceptable, but the plat is," said Town Engineer LaRon Garrett.

"Why don't they just make the notation change and resubmit the plat?" asked Commissioner Russell Goddard.

"As it is, the preliminary plat doesn't even conform to the preliminary plat."

Commission Chairman Hal Baas then warned the developer that he could either postpone the request to clean up the paperwork or risk a rejection by a commission irritated with the condition of the report.

Reading the signs easily enough, the landowner asked for a one-month postponement.

The commission approved the postponement on a 4-2 vote, with two commissioners objecting to the delay for such minor problems.

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