Residents were short on patience and long on opinions at this week's Payson City Council meeting.

Approximately 20 Main Street residents attended a public hearing to voice strong opinions on a proposed zoning change. The action would redesignate Main, between Second and Seventh North, from a residential to a commercial zone. The neighborhood in question contains about 40 homes."The change could bring more business into the area by the freeway," Lawrence Johnson said. "If travelers don't see any businesses near the road, they don't stop, and Payson doesn't get any money. Then the kids have to leave town to find a job.

"People in this town can be pretty hard-nosed about progress."

Others wanted to protect the residential area.

"My house was built in 1894," James Hill said. "It is on the state and national historical registries. I want to pass the home to my son, and I am sure he will pass it on to his kids."

Mayor Curtis Arrington said the zoning change would not force residents to sell their homes to business. It would just make it easier for businesses to locate in whatever lots became available.

"But in a way, it would force residents out," Joye Shell said. "No one wants to live with businesses on both sides of their house, and property values would drop. Everyone would leave.

"There is already plenty of development in Payson. Coming from Elkridge, you see a golf course loading dock. From Salem, you see lots of `for sale' signs. From Santaquin, you see nearly deserted fried chicken and hamburger stands. We should leave one entrance that shows Payson as a well-kept family town."

But Bernice Johnson said it's too late.

"With the traffic, it is already dangerous to let your grandchildren play on the lawn. It was a nice little residential area once, but its time has passed."

Arrington said he thinks the area will be commercial sometime in the future, but he was "not sure if the future was here yet." He said six businesses have expressed interest in one large lot, but sometimes a business deal can take years.

Councilman Mez Stewart said he thinks the zone change would open a door to economic growth.

"It may not come right away, or even in the next 10 years, but we need to have the option open for development. Businesses sometimes don't even consider locations where they would have to fight for a zone change."

He suggested the Planning and Zoning Committee consider changing the commercial zoning ordinance to require more of a buffer zone between residential and new commercial developments. City ordinances currently require some type of fence.

"That's the way bigger cities like Sandy do it. We could require a concrete block fence, landscaping, or a 30-foot set-back as a buffer."

Council members agreed to ask Planning and Zoning to consider a change in the ordinance. The council will then discuss the zone change further. The action seemed to please none of the audience.

"It took us four months to get through all the paperwork, meetings and hearings. Now we are back at square one," Allen Anderson said.

"We need to examine the options and not make a premature decision," Arrington said. "That is how government works. It takes time, but it works."