Payson Gets Its First Subdivision In Months

Council approves 11-home project on Park Drive, despite pleas of neighbors

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Someone finally wants to build some new houses in Payson. And the neighbors are really unhappy.

“I oppose this development, along with every other neighbor,” said Mary Flider. She said plans to build small, $225,000 homes across the street from her $360,000 home will reduce her property value and cause traffic and drainage problems.

“It’ll be another Easy Street, which is what we moved away from,” said a frustrated David Flider.

But despite heated protests from people living near the proposed 11-home, 2.3-acre subdivision on East Park Drive, the town council approved the preliminary plat plan on a 6-1 vote, with Councilor Ed Blair in opposition.

Luke Ashby’s plan complied with existing zoning, which means the council had little choice but to approve the plan as submitted. Recent voter-approved initiatives give a landowner the right to sue for damages any time a town changes the zoning on his land.

“You need to be very careful what you vote on in the general plan,” Councilor Blair admonished the simmering audience at the Tuesday meeting, “because that is binding on everybody.”

Towns must devise a general plan showing land uses, then adopt a zoning code to implement that plan. The town is currently revising its general plan, which when completed, would need approval in a townwide vote.

“There are certain steps in the development of a property,” agreed Mayor Kenny Evans.

“There are times when people should be paying attention and voting on master plans. This application has complied with those steps. He has gone above and beyond the requirements.”

The present zoning would have allowed the owner to put at least 11 mobile homes on the property, but Luke agreed to a stipulation that the houses will all be “site built.”

Building in Payson has almost stopped in the past 18 months — dropping from an average of about 250 units per year to about 30. The 11-home subdivision was the first sizeable new development the council has considered since new members were elected last year.

Ashby told the council he had little choice but to crowd as many houses onto the property as he could. The density will be about the same as the development behind it on East Lorene Street. However, the developments on either side have half as many houses per acre and the developments on the other side of East Park Drive have about one-third to one-fifth as many houses per acre.

Ashby said the Sanitation District required him to extend the sewer lines by more than 700 feet to reach the property, although he could have connected to the sewer line on the other side of the property with just 150 feet of new line.

The extension of the sewer line will cost him about $150,000 or nearly $15,000 per home. However, that extension could allow other existing homes along the way to connect to a sewer line instead of continuing to rely on septic tanks.

In addition, Ashby said he must pay nearly $11,000 per unit in impact fees, including $7,500 for a water hookup from Payson.

All told, extending the sewer line and paying the impact fees will add about $26,000 to the cost of each home.

He said with the shorter sewer line extension, he could have eliminated two lots.

Providing the infrastructure and paying the fees “adds up to about $300,000 in real costs,” he said.

The houses will also be squeezed because of a town requirement that says he must build retention basins to not only prevent rainwater from washing off the property, but retain 75 percent of the water that drains onto the property from neighboring lots.

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