The Town of Payson’s purchase of land for a new water tower coupled with rumors of a new housing development have alarmed some Alpine Heights residents.

Those concerns spilled over at the July 11 council meeting during the public comment period — but open meeting laws prevented the council from answering a flood of questions about how the two separate developments might affect the neighborhood.

Public Works Director Sheila DeSchaaf said planning staff is still waiting to see plans for the rumored development so she can offer few answers as to what it might look like.

She could confirm the town has purchased property to build a water tank.

The vote to purchase the water tank property took place March 28 when the council approved $95,000 for the purchase. That property has long been on the town’s wish list.

“The Town of Payson Water Department has been interested in the purchase of Lot 147 for over 20 years, since it is the highest elevation lot in Payson and adjacent to the existing Hillcrest Storage Tank,” according to water department officials in a memo to the council.

Putting in a water tank would help serve Mesa del Caballo, Alpine Heights, Payson and Spirit Ridge Equestrian Estates subdivisions, according to the water department.

However, soon after the town agreed to purchase Lot 147, the owner of the property “adjacent and south of both the existing site and the newly purchased lot,” approached the town “about the possibility of swapping a portion of what the town acquired for a portion of the property south of the town’s property,” said DeSchaaf.

An agenda item to swap properties appeared on the June 27 agenda. Asking the council to get involved with swapping the lot line is not typical.

“Lot line adjustments do not require council approval,” said DeSchaaf. “We see several of these adjustments each week.”

In this case, “this survey map and lot line adjustment had to receive council authorization,” said DeSchaaf, since the town owns the property.

The town has no plans to divide the property.

But resident Catherine Hines knew none of this when at the July 11 council meeting she said, “I live in Alpine Heights and I just found out, not through public notice, that an almost 15-acre development will be approved for basically logging.”

After the meeting, DeSchaaf spoke to Hines.

“She stated that she had conversations with a realtor about a potential development on the property and that he told her he would be meeting with the town soon,” said DeSchaaf.

DeSchaaf said for a new housing development, applicants must “reach out to surrounding property owners as part of the pre-development process.”

DeSchaaf told Hines that, “I did speak with an agent for that property who advised that they do intend to begin Firewise activity on the property soon,” but not logging.

For more information, stop by the Community Development office between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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

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