Council denies first rezone request out of 21 this year

Who says you don't have a voice in city hall beyond your vote at the ballot box?

The mayor and six City Council members voted down a rezone request Aug. 6 after hearing concerns voiced by residents whose neighborhood would have seen a significant increase in the types of businesses allowed.

The unanimous vote by Council was to deny a rezone request for a one-acre lot in the Tuscany Village strip mall currently under construction at the corner of Eastern and Southern avenues - an area that includes a church and park with a school up the road.

Had it been approved, the rezone would have increased the types of commercial businesses allowed from fewer than 20 to more than 100, and it would have allowed alcohol stores, tobacco shops and tattoo parlors.

Vice Mayor Dave French, after hearing city staff's recommendation for approval and the grievances of a couple residents, summarized the issue facing Council.

"Well, the name of C-1 is neighborhood commercial, and that's a neighborhood. It's that simple," he said.

In the original request, the developer wanted to rezone five lots - just over four acres - from C-1 to C-2. By the time it came before the Planning & Zoning Commission in July, developer Ross Campbell had cut the request to two lots.

The P&Z Commission voted to deny the request, and when it came before Council, the developer had again reduced the number of lots to one.

"We have a responsibility to make the public aware of what potentially can happen, and when it changes so many times, I'm not sure that that's clear," Councilman Tom Spear said. "And there's obviously some people that are concerned about this."

The city planning staff sends rezone notifications to homeowners in a 300-foot radius around the property in question. Only homeowners within a 150-foot radius can petition the rezone, and if 20 percent of the owners voice opposition, they can force a supermajority vote from Council.

By the time the developer had changed the rezone from five lots to one, more than 80 percent of the property in the 150-foot radius was city-owned, meaning that residents would not have the ability to petition the rezone.

"I think they looked at the amount of opposition, and they wanted to improve their odds as far as how many people were going to come and oppose it," area homeowner Ed Walker told Council. "Again people opposed it, so they pulled back, which is their right, (but) they pulled back to the point where they can't have any opposition because the city of Kingman owns all the property within 150 feet."

"We made it very clear at the other meeting, (we) didn't oppose the C-1, but we don't want the C-2. We live there. That C-2 was put there a long time ago. OK, we'll live with that, but as citizens we do have a right to tell you our displeasure ... ," Walker said.

After hearing from Walker and another resident, Brenda Higbee, who collected 70 signatures from area residents and church attendees opposed to the rezone, Byram spoke his piece.

"Unless there is something I don't know about, I'm not about (to) rezone from C-1 to C-2 in that residential neighborhood when people in that neighborhood ... are dead set against the C-2 rezoning. There's something wrong when the contractors come and put this Council on the spot asking for a rezone, C-2, when they know what it is: it's right in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and they come and want us to rezone it. As far as I'm concerned, I certainly won't vote (in favor)."

Council's vote to deny was the first rezone request turned down out of 21 this calendar year.