The recent media attention given to our group, RAID, has resulted in some interesting comments from our mayor and some of the City Council members.
In an interview on the local cable channel 77, Mayor Byram observed that he wasn't sure what the intentions of our group were and that he felt the proposed strip mall was a good addition to our residential neighborhood. That remark seems to make the mayor sound conflicted since he did vote against the rezoning for the mall. Sounds like a "I voted for the mall before I voted against it" comment made famous by a senator from Massachusetts.
The main fact that everyone glosses over is that the property owners had a designation of C-1 for the property in question and no one would have contested them if they had decided to keep that designation and to just go for the zoning to build that small mall they contended they wanted to build.
But instead, the owners pushed for and received a new designation to C-2 which, when one compares C-1 to C-2, there is a tremendous difference between the two. C-1 would have allowed the owners to put in the small shops they said they wanted to build, C-2 opens up an entirely different situation where anything from large 24/7 businesses, hotel/motels, tattoo parlors and auto repair shops would now be zoned into a neighborhood where people live. In the end, as we suspected, it became public knowledge that the property owners were just trying to get the zoning in place to "flip the dirt" to an out-of-town builder who could then build pretty much whatever they wished since they had their zoning in place.
That is the reason we stood firm against the re-zone request. What we also found distressing was the fact that most of the Council members didn't take the time to come out to the property in question and see for themselves what we were protesting. Most troubling was the fact that Councilman Ray Lyons, who is retired and had the time to check out the property, didn't bother to do so and voted for the re-zone just to be "business friendly." There are times, Mr. Lyons, that a business-friendly atmosphere is necessary, but this wasn't one of them. When a neighborhood is being invaded under the guise of the "Growing Smarter Plan," that is when those residing in that neighborhood have to stand up and be heard.
Vice Mayor French expressed concerns that RAID was targeting every zoning issue. Many zoning requests have come before the City Council since our referendum and we haven't uttered a word against them even though a member of our group has been at every one of those meetings. We will continue to monitor all of the upcoming City Council meetings because that is what a responsible watchdog committee does.
Your fears are unfounded, Mr. French. Our only mission is to ensure responsible governance from our city leaders, which is our right. No one is calling any of the City Council members or the mayor irresponsible. We realize your job is not an easy one, but there are times the rulings that are made by you tend to favor some applicants even though many of your electorate stand against those requests. You say as a ruling body that your decisions reflect what is best for the city as a whole and not for just a few. The city of Kingman is made up of many distinct and separate neighborhoods and there are times when you must micro-manage your decisions to reflect what is best for those distinct areas where people have invested their life's savings to live.
It is suggested by some that RAID is just a small band of folks that doesn't represent the majority of Kingman's residents. This may be true, but judging from the response we received from the public we met while collecting 685 signatures, I don't think we are representing a small minority.
There are many angry folks out there and RAID is providing them an opportunity to express their feelings by participating in their local government.
Granted our group is small now, but every week we gather more members. We are not a bunch of wild-eyed obstructionists who intend to disrupt every facet of this city's government.