Sv General Plan Calls For Open Space, Parks

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tar Valley needs more parks and open space for residents and visitors, according to a draft of the general plan.

In all of Star Valley's 24 annexed square miles, there is no public place for people to play sports, picnic and rest or relax.

A general plan committee of more than 10 community members realized this and wants to incorporate mountain preserves, ATV trails and open space into future town development.

Open space refers to land inside or adjacent to a town that is set aside for recreational facilities. An area designated as open space cannot be developed except for the purpose of recreation.

"This element of the general plan represents the community's initial vision for the future," the draft states.

Six categories of open space are planned. The first area is a mountain preserve, incorporating Monument Peak, located southwest of town.

Consultant Peter Armenta, community development director for Central Arizona Association of of Governments said the town wanted to make sure the mountain area was preserved from future development, similar to the Camelback area in Phoenix. Incorporating the mountain into a preserve would halt any future development plans on the land.

Surrounding Monument Peak would be a recreation area containing hiking trails.

Existing trails in the area are very rudimentary, Armenta said. The town would like to collaborate with a local hiking group or agency to create additional trails for both tourists and locals to use.

Near the recreation area, the town would like to see a multi-use area designated for sports fields.

The area would include an open field, used for multiple sports including baseball, softball and soccer.

"The town wants an area where people can gather, a focal area," Armenta said. "Looking 20 years from now, the town anticipates more families moving to the area." A central space is needed for people to gather. The fourth open space category, a park/amphitheater located south of Highway 260, would also be a place for residents to gather.

Controlling ATV use

To control the use of ATVs within Star Valley, the town is planning to construct four miles of ATV trails traversing town.

A large number of residents ride ATVs in the area, damaging land, Armenta said.

"The town wants to minimize environmental impact," he said. "They don't want people tearing through property."

The largest category of open space, 12 square miles, is a defensible space surrounding town. A defensible space provides protection from forest fire by thinning the area's vegetation.

Armenta said this is the only town he knows of with plans to create a defensible area.

"It is pretty innovative," he said.

"What they want to do is clear out certain areas of forest to protect local properties from wildfire."

The town would collaborate with the Forest Service to clear the area, creating a safer town protected from the threat of wildfire, he said.

To travel to the new areas of development, including a business corridor, the town would like to construct additional roads and pave existing dirt roads.

"A community that is capable of maintaining its local roads is more appealing than other communities who may be struggling to do this or have not planned effectively," the plan states.

Slated pavings include Moonlight Trail and streets located near the center of town.

Currently, Highway 260 is the single transportation route through town. Council members would like to see a new road constructed north of town connecting it to Payson.

Extending Latigo Lane, north of Highway 260, and Union Park Drive, south of Highway 260, would create direct access to Highway 260 and reduce the distance to the highway, the plan states.

Developing new roads south of town, near roads that are frequently flooded, would allow residents to evacuate during a flood or forest fire.

"We want to find another way for people to get out if flooding occurs," Armenta said.

The additional roads would also allow residents to stay off the main highway. Currently, to drive to a nearby neighborhood, residents have to drive out to Highway 260 to connect to a nearby subdivision.

"This allows locals to move around without getting on the highway," he said.

To further connectivity with Payson, the town has received funding for a van through Arizona Department of Transportation's van program. The new van transports residents to Payson's senior center.

"The aging of society and the need for transportation to medical and health services is generating more demands for rural transit," the draft states.

The last area of circulation the draft covers is sidewalks and trails, which are "often overlooked."

"Well developed and maintained sidewalks and trail systems contribute to the quality of life," the draft states.

Developing landing areas, where residents can access forest service trails, would further develop the town.

The general plan draft has been in the works for the last two years.

The plan covers multiple areas of town development, such as land, zoning and water use for the next 20 years. It outlines current town conditions, guiding principals and future use.

State law requires any town with 2,500 residents to establish a general plan. When Star Valley incorporated in 2005, data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau for the 2000 census put the population at 1,536.

Armenta estimates by the next census in 2010, the population will be more than 2,500.

"The council wanted to take their time and not wait for the population to reach 2,500," Armenta said. "They know there will be development, but to what degree they do not know." A general plan shows how the town will deal with growth.

In phase four of the Roundup's coverage of Star Valley's general plan, we will focus on water resources.

The water resource chapter of the general plan remains incomplete, pending the results of a new independent water survey by LFR, Inc.

Approval of the general plan is halted until the survey is complete.

The general plan was originally scheduled for public review in early August, but has been pushed back possibly until December, Armenta said.

Once finished, the plan will head to the town's planning committee, and then council and finally to the public for approval, Armenta said.

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