Payson’s water-thrifty, native-plant-loving, “cool mountain town” landscaping requirements survived two rounds of review with only minor changes.
Homebuilders will still have to devote 20 percent of their lot to landscaping and pick plants off a list maintained by the water department, now that the Payson Planning Commission has accepted the recommendations of the town’s Design Review Board — providing, of course, the town council similarly rubber stamps the tweaks in the existing rules.
The design review board “essentially went through it line by line and tried to make sense of what it was intended to say,” said Sheila DeSchaaf, a town planner. “The idea was to make it user friendly.”
The only discussion on the issue at the Planning Commission meeting centered on whether the restrictions on outdoor lights intended to keep light pollution from washing out the stars applies to spotlights on flagpoles.
“The only discussion was whether flagpole lighting was addressed, which it wasn’t — so we’re looking at that,” said DeSchaaf.
The town’s ordinance is intended to be telescope and star-gazer friendly, by limiting the wattage of outdoor lights, encouraging dimmer, metal halide and high pressure sodium lights and requiring various designs and shields to make sure the light points at the ground instead of up into the sky.
The landscaping requirements are intended to create as much of a forested feel as possible throughout town, while minimizing water use.
The rules also call for landscaping plans that trap as much water as possible on the property to soak into the water table, instead of paving everything and forcing water to run off onto the next property — since the town lacks a complete, town-wide storm drain system.
The ordinance even requires at least 5 percent of the area of a parking lot to contain landscaping.
Vegetation has to cover at least 30 percent of the area devoted to landscaping, with the balance of the area covered with something that doesn’t use water but does absorb rainfall — like gravel, decomposed granite, river rock, mulch or bark.