RAID submits 1,190 Crossing petition signatures

RAID President Mike Bihuniak and member Marvin Robertson talk with City Clerk Debbie Francis Friday afternoon as they turn in 1,190 petition signatures for a referendum against Kingman Crossing. NICHOLAS WILBUR/Miner

RAID President Mike Bihuniak and member Marvin Robertson talk with City Clerk Debbie Francis Friday afternoon as they turn in 1,190 petition signatures for a referendum against Kingman Crossing. NICHOLAS WILBUR/Miner

KINGMAN - They were shooting as much for a statement as they were for a successful petition against the city's decision to change the land use of 160 acres from park space to commercial at Kingman Crossing. And they succeeded in both.

Residents Against Irresponsible Development turned in more than two and a half times the minimum number of signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot for voters in November.

Members of the city watchdog group RAID were inside city hall the day after Council voted last month in favor of a major amendment to the land use designation for acreage bordering the south side of Interstate 40, where the city plans to build an interchange and a shopping mall at Kingman Crossing.

After a month of gathering signatures in an attempt to retain the park space, and with a minimum 461 needed to put the issue on the fall ballot, RAID came in with 94 pages of petitions totaling 1,190 signatures.

"When you went to people to sign, you'd start to tell them what it's about and they'd say, 'oh RAID, I know what it's about, where do I sign?'" President Mike Bihuniak said. "The thing that was really amazing was how many people knew about this and had strong feelings against it."

Not only did group members gather two and a half times as many as needed, they also gained the support of more than 25 percent of the voting population. Although the county elections office will deem some signatures invalid, RAID members believe it's a sure bet that they will, again, be successful with this referendum.

RAID members were out in force just as they were in the December petition, but this time the group attracted so many volunteers that it would be impossible to list all the contributors, they said.

"There was quite a lot of volunteers that wanted not only to sign our petitions but to carry them," Bihuniak said. "I want to thank them, really, because the volunteers are a major part of this."

This is RAID's second referendum against City Council actions. The first one, which will be on the ballot in November, challenged the zoning of a 28-acre parcel at Airway Avenue and Castle Rock Road to commercial. The developers had requested and were granted commercial zoning in the middle of a residential area. RAID filed for a petition because the developers asked for C-2 zoning instead of C-1, the former of which has many more allowable uses that RAID felt wouldn't mesh with the surrounding neighborhood.

RAID took to the streets in the middle of the winter and gathered 685 signatures for that referendum.