Residents’ Concerns About Airport Exchange Street Changes Go Unanswered

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Property owners expecting to express their concerns about proposed changes in neighborhood streets feeding into the airport exchange land, instead had their questions redirected to the planning commission Thursday night.

Ray Jones, representative for the Montezuma Castle Land Joint Venture group, hosted the workshop on his clients’ proposal to amend Payson’s general plan land uses to accommodate development in former Forest Service property surrounding the airport. At one point in the hour-long session, after a heated exchange between one of his clients and a concerned citizen, Jones said, “This is my hearing.”

That summed up the evening — the concerned citizens were there to hear him, not be heard.

He directed the group of about 50 residents to send their comments in writing to Ray Erlandsen, acting director of the Payson Community Development Department, by Oct. 13. Comments may be mailed to Erlandsen at 303 N. Beeline Highway, Payson, AZ 85547 or sent via e-mail. You can send an e-mail by going to the Web site www. ci.payson.az.us and then selecting “community development” in the menu. Click on “contact” and an e-mail form will come on the screen. (It has ‘jowen’ as the recipient still, but it will get your message to Erlandsen).

Jones said the planning commission would have its hearing and take action on the proposed amendment at a Nov. 10 meeting. A spokesperson at the community development office said the Nov. 10 meeting is tentative and depends on the volume of public comment received on the issue.

The primary concern of most residents was the prospect of having their quiet streets turned into major routes leading to the industrial park/commercial district around the airport.

Jones said the town directed him to incorporate the expansion/changes of five streets into the plans for the exchange land: North Vista Road, Wagon Trail, Green Valley Parkway, Airport Road and West Sherwood Drive. He said the property owners were also required to dedicate rights of way for these roads to the town.

Residents with homes on Sherwood and Wagon Trail were most vocal.

They fear making their dead-end streets into through roads, which will increase traffic and its hazards and lower property values. There was also concern about the initial construction traffic destroying the streets.

It was suggested that before any action is taken on the proposed amendment, a traffic study be conducted regarding the actual anticipated use of the extended streets and the impact to existing neighborhoods.

Jones said the plans to push Sherwood and the other streets through to the airport area had been on the books for 20 years.

Jim Young, founder of ERA Young Realty and Investment and one of the developers that helped build many of the neighborhoods in Payson, disagreed with Jones’ statement. But Jones dismissed his argument.

The land use plan adopted by the town as part of its general plan in 1998 includes a map that shows only the expansion of Green Valley Parkway to Airport Road.

A zoning map from 2006 shows the Green Valley Parkway expansion and an expansion of West Sherwood, plus a realignment of Airport Road, but no changes to North Vista or Wagon Trail.

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