You know what they say: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice — well, don’t look too hard in the mirror. Or words to that effect.
So assorted Payson Town Council members have hastened to say they’re eager to protect our thickly forested little slice of heaven from the next Wallow Fire. This comes after a thunderstruck reaction to comments made about the Wildlands Urban Interface (WUI) code.
Assorted council members made some jaw-dropping comments about beady eyed fire inspectors and how they wouldn’t want anyone to tell them to clear brush and trees from their property. One council member observed that he wouldn’t want to have to clear his property — so why should he make others thin their thickets?
Well, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans has since hastened to explain that the council’s actually very committed to finding ways to reduce the odds a crown fire will sweep in out of the forest and destroy our community. The council just doesn’t like unreasonable, expensive, mindlessly applied rules — enforced by irritable bureaucrats.
That’s good. We couldn’t believe we heard what we heard — so we’re happy to learn the council was just venting. Better yet, the town has set up a committee to ponder the matter under the leadership of the exceptionally reasonable — and undeniably amiable — Fred Carpenter, who most certainly knows his way around a building code having spent years as a city manager.
Moreover, even as we speak, the town’s working to rewrite various public safety codes so it will have some leverage to get homeowners to thin weedy, brushy thickets that endanger their neighbors. Quite sensibly, Mayor Evans says the town needs enthusiastic public cooperation rather than a war fought with thinning shears.
Finally, the council will revisit the fire code in June — trying to weed out the excess rules and settle on a code that works for Payson — which includes a review of what they’ve already done in Flagstaff and Prescott.
All good. We believe you. We’re totally behind that effort. So we’ll eagerly await the public safety code revision and the efforts to create Firewise neighborhoods and the discussion of the fire code in June — assuming we don’t burn the place down in May.
And if it really does turn out that the council doesn’t want to protect the town for fear of upsetting the developers — well then, shame on us for believing.