Residents not wild about shopping center plans

Council decides area at Airway Avenue and North Castle Rock Road may be rezoned in future

KINGMAN - Residents near Airway Avenue and North Castle Rock Road expressed their dismay at a minor amendment to the General Plan during Monday night's City Council meeting.

The amendment would allow a 15.46-acre area on the northwest corner of Airway Avenue and North Castle Rock Road to be rezoned as Community Commercial. The area is currently zoned Neighborhood Commercial and Light Industrial. The city Planning and Zoning Committee recommended approval of the amendment, but the city staff recommended denial. According to the report, staff saw no need to change the General Plan.

The developers of Castle Rock Village and Celebrate Homes voiced their support of the amendment at a Planning and Zoning meeting. Tim Walsh from Mohave Engineer Associates, Inc. said the owner wanted to change the zoning in order to build a shopping center on the land and reduce the amount of light industrial development that could go into the area.

There are residential developments across the street from the proposed shopping center on both Airway Avenue and Castle Rock Road.

"I think it's premature to make a change like this so soon after the opening of the Airway Underpass," one resident of the area said. The city does not know what traffic patterns in the area would be like, he said. Adding a shopping center on the other side of the underpass would increase the amount of traffic in the area even more. He asked Council to postpone a decision on the amendment until after traffic patterns in the area are determined.

Mayor Les Byram said he thought a shopping center might be an asset to the area. It would provide residents with a quick and convenient place to go shopping. They wouldn't have to drive all the way to Stockton Hill Road to go shopping.

Another resident expressed concern over what might go into the shopping center.

"There are a whole list of things under Community Commercial that are ugly and we don't want," he said. There's plenty of room left for commercial development along Andy Devine and Airway avenues, he pointed out.

"I'm speechless. I didn't realize there was this much opposition," said Bill Bowers, the property owner. There must be areas of commercial development near residential areas, he said. Commercial areas need to be built close to where shoppers live to provide convenient access. "This is the best use of the land. I'm not going to give it to the city. I'm not going to rezone it residential," he said.

Bowers said there were worse things that could go in if the area remained Neighborhood Commercial and Light Industry. A construction contractor with a yard full of construction materials could go in, he said.

Several years ago when the General Plan was being developed, area residents and Bowers agreed to let the property be zoned Neighborhood Commercial and Light Industry. At the time, Bowers said he didn't think that residential and commercial growth in Kingman would explode as it has in the past few years. He never expected that the area on the other side of the railroad tracks would develop the way it has.

City Manager Paul Beecher pointed out that even if the amendment was approved, a rezoning of the property would have to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Committee and Council.

"It's much too soon to be making a decision on this," said one resident. "Wait a year. This is the first step in a major change."

Councilman Kerry Deering asked how he could make a decision when the city staff opposed the amendment and the Planning and Zoning Committee approved it.

Byram said the issue was a judgment call that had to be made by each individual Council member.

Council member Tom Carter expressed concern over having a Light Industrial area abutting a residential neighborhood.

Council then voted to approve the amendment to the General Plan that would allow the area to be rezoned in the future.