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Ray Pugel is the trailblazer for a new trend in Payson housing — tiny homes for retirement or vacation living.

Pugel won a narrow victory from the Payson Town Council to rezone a piece of property off of Tyler Parkway near Highway 87 to fit more than 100 tiny homes and 28 spaces for RVs. The council split on whether this project would fill a niche in the market or clutter the community.

“I have heard from so many folks that live (near) there ... it’s almost a frenzy of those that are opposed to it,” said Mayor Tom Morrissey.

Pugel’s property abuts mostly commercial properties. The Episcopal Church is next door. Across the street sits Home Depot, the Nazarene Church, the Payson Community Garden and the Majestic Rim assisted living home.

Pugel confirmed he had sent out the required notifications to those within the 300-foot zone from his property line. None objected to the project.

Morrissey then questioned Pugel whether or not to define the park models as affordable housing, which set off a debate within the council.

Vice Mayor Janell Sterner wondered if the park models affected mortgages, or if buyers could qualify for federal HUD loans.

Pugel explained HUD puts restrictions on communities that would not work with this model. He did say because of the unique nature of the park models, those seeking a loan would have to add a couple of interest points to the mortgage payment.

Council member Steve Smith praised Pugel’s project because it takes a stab at the affordable housing crisis evolving in Payson.

“With something like this when you amortize it, that is affordable,” he said.

He reminded the council the rental market in Payson is so tight, “as something goes up for rent” it’s snatched up. On top of that, renters can’t find suitable rentals for anything less than $1,000 a month, said Smith.

Pugel alerted the council that as building material costs have increased, the price of the park models would increase to around $65,000 or so.

Smith quickly calculated a mortgage and found it would come to $600 a month.

Sterner asked Pugel to describe his unique situation with the land, because it adds to the monthly cost. Each lot provides space for the house, two cars and a storage shed, but the homeowner does not own the lot. Instead, Pugel charges around $400 a month for the land, water and sewer.

“That is still $1,000 a month,” said Smith.

Council member Jim Ferris jumped in to say he had driven around the Pine Creek Resort and concluded “I would feel very comfortable driving in and calling one of them home,” especially since Pugel has strict rules about clutter and short-term rentals. He doesn’t allow either.

The council’s vote split 4 to 3 with Ferris combining his vote with Smith, Chris Higgins and Barbara Underwood to overturn the minority of Morrissey, Sterner and Suzy Tubbs-Avakian.

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(1) comment

Mike White

I'm a bit surprised that buyers can get mortgages for cabins on lots they don't own. We have a small cabin on federal land in CA that buyers cannot obtain loans for because someone else owns the land.

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