Changing the zoning in Rye, the Gila County Board of Supervisors set the stage for an innovation in home electricity at its Oct. 15 meeting.

The supervisors held a public hearing to adopt an ordinance to allow the modification of the zoning map for unincorporated areas of Gila County and allow a minor amendment to the Gila County Comprehensive Master Plan for property at 16424 N. Highway 87 in Rye, owned by Jack Stewart.

The change will eventually result in the construction of a facility for the commercial manufacturing of 8-kilowatt generators powered by a liquid similar to antifreeze, patented by Larry Sheehan of Payson. He said it would have the potential to provide power to a home as needed or serve as an alternative source in areas where it is difficult to get regular electricity.

Responding to questions about the product, Sheehan said it is about the size of a large water heater and makes noise similar to that of a washing machine. He said if that is too loud, the appliance could be insulated to dampen the sound.

Asked about disposing of the liquid, Sheehan said the design recirculates the liquid. As to the cost, he said the company would lease the appliances, not sell them.

Currently, the property is zoned Rural Residential District and with the approval of the BOS becomes Industrial Three District: Unrestricted Industrial. Additionally the supervisors approved the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to make a minor amendment to the Gila County Comprehensive Master Plan land use designation from Multi-Functional Corridor to Light Industrial.

The property in Rye is 5.45 acres in size.

County Community Development director Scott Buzan told the supervisors that in analyzing these requests, staff found uses in the area are primarily storage related, including the storage of recreational vehicles, towed and impounded vehicles, tractor-trailers and general storage lots. There are also several other businesses selling items such as pre-made sheds, manufactured homes, propane and ATVs. There is a convenience market, a small recycling business, a trap and skeet range, a radio-controlled airplane field, an RV park and approximately a half-dozen family residences.

The proposed manufacturing use is not permitted in any of the county’s commercial zoning districts and is not permitted in the current zoning classification of Rural Residential, thus the need to rezone the subject property, Buzan explained in documents presented to the supervisors. The Comprehensive Master Plan is clear in that low-intensity employment, manufacturing and fabrication activities belong in the Light Industrial land use category, making it necessary to request that change as well.

He said the community development staff does not believe that the proposed manufacturing use will have a negative impact on adjoining properties or the Rye community. The use, while industrial, is a light industrial use that would be compatible with the commercial uses in the area. All of the manufacturing activity and related storage will be located indoors within a new building that will eventually employ up to 40 employees.

The applicant will be required to obtain development plan approval prior to the issuance of any building permit. The development plan process entails a detailed review of the site plan, buildings, parking, waste water, signage, screening, ingress and egress and drainage to ensure the subject property is in compliance with all applicable county zoning and building regulations.

The interim plan for the property is to use it for RV, boat and automobile storage, which will not negatively impact other properties in the area, as that use would be consistent with other storage uses in the vicinity. However, the storage business would also require development plan approval and any applicable permits prior to opening. It is possible for the storage use and manufacturing use to be reviewed concurrently during the development plan process.

The county’s community development staff recommended approval, subject to the condition that a development plan and all applicable permits must be approved prior to the commencement of any business activity on the subject property.

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