Wal-Mart prices 'yes' vote at $47,000

The Wal-Mart rezoning issue could result in a record voter turnout in Kingman on Tuesday.

The Kingman City Clerk's Office reported 973 early votes cast by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

That is nearly double the number of early ballots in recent city elections.

Opposing political action committees representing Wal-Mart and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are actively looking for votes in the March 9 referendum.

Wal-Mart has contributed $47,000 to Citizens for Better Government, Kingman real estate broker Dave Hollingsworth reported as treasurer of the political action committee.

Voters have been receiving phone calls from Occidental Communications, a company that is managing the campaign to affirm the Kingman City Council rezoning for a Wal-Mart Supercenter site.

The company has budgeted $6,200 to conduct telephone research on voter attitudes, $24,200 for mailings to voters and $5,000 for phone calls urging people to vote.

Campaign finance figures filed with the city clerk's office also show that the grocery workers' union has contributed $1,500 of in kind services to People Speak, the political action committee that opposes the bigger store.

The UFCWU Local 99 is promoting requests for early balloting by mail.

As elsewhere around the country, the vote has overtones about labor controversy, not just about organizing Wal-Mart's workforce – but union jobs at grocery stores that would complete against the retailer's new supercenter.

The rezoning was approved by the Kingman City Council 5-1 with one member absent.

The issue ended up on the March 9 city election ballot when enough signatures were gathered opposing the council's rezoning ordinance.

A yes vote allows the Wal-Mart Supercenter to be built.

A no vote voids the council's rezoning action and stops the project.

The proposed site is between the Mohave Wash and Stockton Hill Road, north of the current Wal-Mart and south of Airway Avenue.

The company wants the 11.5 acres that it purchased from Mohave County to be changed to commercial zoning.

The site, which totals about 25 acres, has been designated in the Kingman general plan as suitable for a regional shopping center

Most of the discussion in city meetings has centered on traffic con-

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gestion along Stockton Hill Road and proposals to solve the problem.

Wal-Mart and the city have negotiated a package of traffic-mitigation, drainage, sewer measures worth about $900,000.

Wal-Mart agreed to spend up to $150,000 for a bridge across the Mohave Wash and a road to Burbank Avenue east of the store site, or for an access road from Beverly Avenue north along Mohave Wash.

Either option would be in addition to access from Airway Avenue and Stockton Hill Road.

Wal-Mart also has agreed to pay an estimated $250,000 each for signals on Stockton Hill Road and Airway Avenue.

The company would improve drainage and sewer lines across the property and purchase parts of two streets to be abandoned at a total cost estimated at $245,341.

City Manager Roger Swenson said many concessions were made by Wal-Mart during negotiations with city staff since the rezoning application originally went before the Kingman Planning and Zoning commission in June.

Most were beyond what the city could actually require Wal-Mart to do, he added.

"This is not a perfect set of circumstances," Swenson said.

"However, when you see the concessions other cities have given to Wal-Mart, the proposal shows a willingness for them to work with the city toward an acceptable compromise."