Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey and town staff got an earful about proposed projects, including the recent cutting down of trees on a Mud Springs Road property during a open mic meeting June 25.

Public Works Director Shelia DeSchaaf explained when it comes to the removal of trees to make way for sports fields off of Mud Springs Road there is little residents or the town can do to stop it.

Turns out the Rim Country Educational Alliance, a separate legal entity (SLE) that owns the property, doesn’t have to go through the normal town permit process. The SLE also owns the land for the proposed university project off State Route 260.

“I was appalled there was not an announcement about the bulldozing of trees,” said resident Penny Nevis-Schmidt. “That forest is habitat that provided a buffer to those homes on Mud Springs Road ... I’m surprised they could clearcut trees without a meeting.”

DeSchaaf explained the SLE is “a political subdivision of the state,” that interacts with the town in a similar fashion as Gila County.

“We have the same control over the county if the county is going to take out trees,” said DeSchaaf.

The SLE did complete rezoning on the property “in maybe 2009-2010 where it was changed from R1 (residential) to EF, which is educational facilities.”

The SLE holds public meetings. Agendas are posted at town hall and online at www.rimcountryeducationalalliance.org.

The SLE’s next meeting is Thursday, Aug. 8 at 308 E. Aero Drive.

Board members include Jon Cline, Larry Sugarman, Richard Richey and Ted Pettet.

contact the reporter at: mnelson@payson.com

I cover the Town of Payson, courts, wildfire, business, families, non-profits, the environment and investigative reporting

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