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12:45 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Wal-Mart seeks another delay for purchasing superstore site

Due to zoning problems with the city of Kingman, Wal-Mart has failed to close escrow on land purchased from Mohave County for building a superstore.

Wal-Mart bid $652,500 for 11.5 acres at a public auction held May 5 and paid a $70,000 non-refundable earnest deposit.

The remainder of the $652,000, which was to have been paid Aug.

4 to close on the property, has not been received by the county, leaving Mohave County District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers wondering what the county's next move should be.

The property was sold with no contingencies, other than granting Wal-Mart extensions of 45 days and 90 days.

The extensions were granted to allow Wal-Mart time to get approval from the city to rezone the 11.5 acres from open space to commercial.

Wal-Mart has asked for yet another extension, Byers said, to continue to work out zoning problems.

The matter will go before Mohave County Board of Supervisors during their Sept.

2 meeting.

"Wal-Mart asked me to put it on the Sept.

2 agenda.

They asked to extend the time to close escrow to Sept.

30," Byers said.

"It is a dilemma.

They haven't paid for the property.

"If we don't give them the extension so they can get zoning, it will never close, and the property will literally be worth nothing."

Byers said that without the proper zoning to build a superstore, Wal-Mart probably will not want to pay for the property.

When contacted Monday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

community affairs manager Peter Kanelos confirmed that Wal-Mart has asked for another extension to close escrow on the property.

"It is my hunch land deals are contingent on the approval of zoning, on the deal going through," Kanelos said.

Aug.

4 was the date Wal-Mart agreed to close on the Beverly Avenue property.

Byers said, "We could take the earnest deposit and it would never close.

Then what is the property worth?

"It also wouldn't be in the best interest of the county," he said.

The superstore would be built between Stockton Hill Road and Mohave Wash south of Airway Avenue, just north of the current Wal-Mart along Beverly Avenue.

Smith's Food and Drug protested the Wal-Mart rezoning after the matter was considered by the Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission.

Smith's is the only private landowner that could have filed a protest over a common boundary to the 11.5 acres Wal-Mart needs.

Three other adjoining private parcels already have been zoned commercial, and Wal-Mart has an option to buy those parcels for its superstore site.

Wal-Mart failed to obtain rezoning for the 11.5 acres when two Kingman City Council members voted against the request, citing concerns for traffic and lost jobs in competing grocery stores.

The council vote was 5-2 in favor of Wal-Mart, but approval by at least a 6-1 vote was needed because a protest had been filed.

The vote was controversial, and a group of citizens is gathering signatures for the recall of councilmen Frank McVey and Ray Lyons.

Byers said he does not agree with the recall and that he is hoping that zoning problems can be solved.

"I'm sure if those issues were addressed, planning and zoning would consider this spot," he said.

Byers said the Wal-Mart superstore is needed in Kingman and that it could tempt other stores to the area.

"It we had stores here, people would stay here to shop," he said.

"It has nothing to do with Wal-Mart's business practices.

I believe in a free enterprise system.

If you don't like their business practices don't shop there."