Plenty Of Time Ahead

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Take a breath. Hold it. Hold it. Now exhale.

Ahhhhh. Feeling better? Calm? Centered?

All right — now maybe we can talk about the proposed Payson general plan amendment for the 220-acres near the airport, which was the subject of a recent exchange with the U.S. Forest Service.

In today’s paper, we report on a request by the landowners to change the general plan categories for the biggest chunk of privately owned, undeveloped land in town. The landowners want to devote a big chunk to light industry and airport-related businesses — and another swath to apartments. In addition, the proposed plan calls for both medium- and low-density residential areas — much of it on a hillside visible from all over town.

Already, the conspiracy theories have been making their way into our mailbox. Obviously, some people feel the project represents some sinister conspiracy between the property owners and the town — which will end Life As We Know It in Payson.

Make no mistake: This debate will touch on the biggest planning challenges facing Payson — providing future jobs and future housing.

The proposed light industrial land in the area could provide a vital supply of future jobs, especially now that Payson has secured its water supply. Moreover, the big chunk of apartment zoning proposed could provide the closest we’re likely to see to “workforce housing” when it comes to new development.

On the other hand, we also sympathize with the concerns of neighboring homeowners who have discovered Forest Service-owned “open space” could become something else entirely. We share their concerns about the transformation of quiet, dead-end streets into collector streets — and the slopes above their homes sprouting houses.

But remember — so far this is just the landowners’ plan — which doesn’t stray too far from the existing general plan. But the zoning remains mostly one unit per four acres — which means the town council will have wide latitude in approving the ultimate mix of development.

So we urge citizens to show up at the Oct. 2 meeting planned by the developer. Listen. Ask questions. Get the facts. And remember that we’ll all have plenty of time to weigh-in as the plan goes to the planning commission and the council.

Finally, those vital and devilish details might not be settled for years, when the developers finally show up with actual plans.

And in the meantime, it’s fall. The weather’s perfect. The aspen will turn soon in the high country. Life is good.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

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