Humane Society Site Talks Take Another Twist

Approved development and proposed lake complicate shelter negotiations

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The Payson Humane Society and Mayor Kenny Evans this week continued negotiations on whether a proposed regional animal shelter should move from Main Street to a site overlooking the Payson Event Center.

The discussions have been complicated by the possible impact of a proposed luxury housing project right next door to the Event Center location and a still-developing plan to put in another town lake and park near the proposed site.

Humane Society Board President Barbara Brenke said the group is still waiting for answers to key questions, including plans for the use of now-vacant neighboring parcels and what extra building costs would be involved in moving the proposed animal shelter to a now-raw, town-owned five-acre five-acre parcel.

“We had hoped to have answers to those questions already,” she said. “But the latest I heard was (Mayor Evans) was going to get answers to us on Monday.”

In the meantime, the group will continue fund-raising and moving forward with plans to build a sound-proofed, enclosed shelter and spay and neuter clinic on two acres the Humane Society owns on McLane Street. The group has raised about $500,000 of the $3.6 million it needs.

Evans said he’s hoping to have the bulk of the Humane Society’s key questions at least provisionally answered by next week. The issue could go back to the council in about two weeks.

The whole discussion has been complicated by the fluid plans for a key, 11-acre chunk of land overlooking the rodeo grounds which the town had at one point offered to lease to a convention hotel until the developer’s financing fell through.

The latest element is the possibility that a floodwater retention basin could turn into a lake with a park near the shelter.

Water for that lake would come mostly from a wastewater treatment plan proposed by the Tonto Apache Tribe for property recently acquired in a land swap.

“What started as a flood control project has now expanded to include the possibility of creating a retention lake — an upper Green Valley Lake,” said Evans.

The second added complication is Read Development’s plan to build about 150, $300,000 town houses on hilltop land next to the proposed site for the shelter.

Brenke said the board had concerns about possible conflicts.

Evans said he did not foresee a conflict, since the plan for the hilltop development would include an open space buffer zone along that side of the property. In addition, a small bluff separates the two properties, so the elevation differences would help to separate the condos and the shelter.

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