Grumbling about growth.
We can remember when worries about growth preoccupied residents. Remember the extension of Mud Springs Road? Remember growth restrictions? Remember squabbles about the design review board and the sign ordinance?
Then came the Great Recession.
The housing market collapsed, sales slumped, the population shrank, the school district started laying off teachers, Payson quit maintaining its streets, the ranks of the police force dwindled.
We’ve spent the last four years hanging on by our cracked and bleeding fingernails, all of us caught in a grim little game of Survivor.
But finally, the scrawny little worm has turned.
The developers of the Timber Ridge Subdivision behind Walmart recently unveiled plans to build 150 new homes. Please note, before the recession builders added 200 to 300 homes annually to our housing stock. Since the onset of the recession, it’s more like 10 or 20.
The developers presented their plans to neighbors recently and heard a flurry of concerns, mostly about traffic. The town wants the developers to make Rumsey Drive a through street that will provide a back door to Walmart. The town’s traffic circulation plan also calls for the extension Forest Park Drive. Residents worry that a lot more cars will now zip through their neighborhood in addition to the 1,400 daily traffic trips the residents of the 150 homes will eventually generate.
We certainly understand such concerns — we all love our quiet, forested residential neighborhoods. The peaceful streets off the highway remain one of Payson’s great lures. So we’re glad residents are expressing their concerns clearly and quickly — and trust the town and the developers will work together to minimize the impact of the new development.
The busy Memorial Day weekend signaled the start of the tourist season — a time of plenty when it comes to sales tax receipts. But many other portents suggest that our long time in the economic wilderness will soon come to an end. The Forest Service land sale for the university is finally moving forward. The building permit office down at town hall has gotten busy. Developers have shown up with preliminary plans for some 600 homes in three subdivisions. The Blue Ridge pipeline is under construction and the Tonto Apache Tribe seems near a major water settlement, which will benefit both the town and the tribe.
So we finally get to switch from worrying whether we’ll survive economically, to grumbling about growth.