KINGMAN - Empty seats at City Council meetings could be hard to come by now that another watchdog group has formed to keep tabs on the city government.
This new group plans to keep an eye on not only the Council but also on the other Council watchdog group, Residents Against Irresponsible Development.
The Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors recently put together a committee to represent what they feel is an unrepresented side of local politics: the pro-growth perspective. But it was clear Thursday at the committee's first meeting that the dozen members in attendance aren't out to undermine RAID. The two groups actually share many of the same frustrations with the city, particularly pertaining to the lack of answers on key zoning issues such as Kingman Crossing.
The Realtor's committee is currently crafting a general platform. With 500 members in the association, the group could really shake things up in city politics. To put that in perspective, last year's mayoral election was decided by 775 votes.
Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Todd Tarson said that like RAID has done with its members, the Realtors in the area are working to find a common denominator.
Once core beliefs are established, Tarson's committee plans to focus on issues they believe in collectively.
Ideas proposed Thursday included private property rights, responsible growth and the betterment of the community.
Communication with city is key
One issue discussed at length Thursday, the first official committee meeting, was that of shoddy communication between the city and its constituents.
"RAID is trying to get information out of the city, and the city's not offering it," Tarson said.
"Well, I think we need to put some pressure on the city as well."
Although several Realtors present didn't necessarily agree with that statement, Association President Rita Zumwalt backed up Tarson's opinion. She pointed out that a recent meeting on the Unified Development Code, an amalgamation of development and subdivision ordinances currently being crafted by the planning department, was uninformative and lacking in leadership.
"That's probably how RAID got developed," she said.
Tarson and other Realtors touched on one of the main criticisms RAID has been proclaiming for months - that the city doesn't include the community in the planning phases of high-impact decisions.
"None of us know even what the Kingman Crossing plan looks like," Tarson said.
"We've seen different renditions and things like that, but the city doesn't have anything to show us. That's the issue I have."
RAID focused on just part of picture
The differences between the two groups are not easy to discern. While RAID is "against irresponsible development," as its name denotes, the Realtor's Association will tout its "responsible growth" stance.
But because RAID is the only citizen group attending public hearings, involving itself in the political process and representing the community, it is not necessarily representative of the entire city, one Realtor said.
The committee is currently working to gather a consensus from its members in order to define a platform. It plans to take advantage of guest commentary pages in the Miner, to recruit between 20 and 40 members, some of whom will attend public meetings, and to publish pamphlets on the Kingman Crossing traffic interchange and development district, highlighting the positive and negative aspects of the project.
The plan is to have a voice on issues that count, which includes joining RAID at the City Council meetings on controversial topics.
Residents did not attend meeting
Councilman Ray Lyons said Thursday in a separate interview that he was disappointed when nobody from the community attended the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday to show their support for the Kingman Crossing project.
Tuesday' s meeting was the first of three hearings on a major amendment to the General Plan that will pave the way to rezone 160 acres of land at the proposed site, lead to the creation of a traffic interchange on I-40 and establish hundreds of acres of retail shops off the highway.
Next week, the Realtor's committee will meet with the local builder's association to discuss possibly combining efforts.
In future meetings, the committee plans to invite Vestar Development Company and Vanderbilt Farms, LLC, the development firms involved in the Kingman Crossing project, to speak.
One question Tarson wants to get a straight answer on is whether or not Vestar will be asking the city for a sales tax incentive in exchange for fronting costs for the construction of a traffic interchange.