Council Rebuffs Irate Neighbors

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After years of struggle, Barbara and Patrick Underwood on Thursday finally convinced the Payson Town Council to let them build an extra five houses on their 15-acre parcel off Tyler Parkway.

Neighbors once again raised fierce objections to the request to allow one-acre lots in a neighborhood originally zoned for two-acre lots, which would allow the Underwoods to build 12 instead of seven houses in the heavily wooded subdivision.

However, the Payson council voted 6-1 to override the protests of the neighbors and the recommendation of the planning commission and allow the zone change.

Councilor Su Connell said “the new zoning is a good fit and would not disrupt the area at all. I’ve received many complaints from people who live a half mile away and would not be affected at all by this development. The Underwoods are anticipating future town needs and they’ve waited 20 years for a return on their investment.”

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said he had met with all the opponents, visited the site and spent hours listening to the objections. “I have not conspired with (the Underwoods). I am hurt by the allegations. I have not and will not question your motives and I would ask for you to believe I and my colleagues have studied these issues. I am concerned that there seems to be a division in this community that assumes that the only reason one would approve higher zoning is to capitulate to a developer. I look at this as five homes in which people will live and contribute to the community.”

Councilor Ed Blair, however, voted against the zone change, citing the “overwhelming” opposition of the neighbors.

“There is no need for the wants of the few to supersede the wants of the majority. I am concerned about special privileges being given when there is absolutely no need for this change. In my opinion, it is bad policy for the town council to change zoning to guarantee a developer’s return.”

He echoed testimony that the protesters offered earlier in the hearing. Peter Menghini pleaded with the council to oppose the zone change, saying that the “overwhelming” majority of the neighbors opposed it as did the planning commission.

Because of the protest of the neighbors, the council needed at least six votes to approve the zone change. The one-acre lots conform to the general plan, but were only half the size of the lot size allowed by the zoning in place when the town annexed the property.

The council rejected another zone change request two years ago on a 5-2 vote, with Blair and Councilor Mike Vogel voting in opposition. This time, recently elected Councilor Fred Carpenter provided the sixth vote the Underwoods needed.

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