Developer seeks fair solution to Kingman sidewalk decree

Shared ownership of land makes some rules seem unreasonable

KINGMAN - The city's subdivision ordinance could be tested during today's City Council meeting over a requirement one developer is finding to be a burden - building sidewalks on land it doesn't own.

Local developer Long Mountain Development has asked the city to OK improvements made to the Memorial Peterson Subdivision, a commercial subdivision west of Western Avenue and between Riata Valley Road and Airway Avenue, despite the sidewalks not being finished.

The city's subdivision ordinance requires sidewalks in commercially and residentially zoned subdivisions with lots smaller than 20,000 square feet. In the past, there have been occurrences where Council allowed developers to complete all required subdivision improvements outside of sidewalks, and then take out a performance bond to complete the sidewalks. Development Services Director Gary Jeppson said that option potentially creates an issue where the city must use either its attorney or outside legal counsel to contact the insurance company in order to secure bond payment.

With its request, Long Mountain Development offered the city two options. It wants Council to either change the subdivision ordinance to not include the completion of sidewalk improvements within the list of required subdivision improvements, or allow the developer to post a bond for the sidewalks.

If the city were to amend its subdivision ordinance, developers would still need to finish sidewalk improvements prior to certificates of occupancy being issued. Here again, city staff is concerned that individual lot development dictating sidewalk completion will create an extended period of sidewalk fragmentation within the subdivision.

The reasoning behind the request, explained in a letter to the city, is that although Long Mountain Development posted the assurance for the improvements, it does not own all the lots. According to the letter, the original developer posted the required assurance in order to get the final plat approved and then went defunct. Between the original developer going defunct and Long Mountain taking over, two of the lots were sold. If Long Mountain is required to complete all the sidewalks, it will be paying for improvements to other developers' properties, according to the letter.

The letter also points out that allowing Long Mountain to defer sidewalk improvements until each lot's construction phase will prevent needing to replace or remove sidewalks for utility services. It will also prevent sidewalks from being damaged during construction, according to the letter.

For Long Mountain's request, staff recommends Council do as it wishes based on the relevant information, Jeppson said.

However, staff recommends doing away with bonding as an assurance option in the future, and instead have developers use one of the city's other surety options for new subdivisions. Those are: construction of improvements prior to final plat recordation, escrow account, letter of credit or property escrow.

In other business, Council will hold the first of two public hearings regarding renewal of Kingman's home rule option. Kingman voters will ultimately decide whether or not the city gets to renew the home rule option during the May 15 general election.

Arizona voters decided in 1980 that the state could impose spending limits on municipalities. Communities are, however, allowed to vote in various alternatives to the limitation, including the home rule option.

Kingman's home rule option, which has been renewed by voters every four years since 1988, allows the city to put water, sewer and sanitation system expenditures outside of the state-imposed spending limit. When it comes up for renewal, public hearings must be held in order to get input regarding the option before it's put to vote.

Council meets at 5:30 p.m. today at 310 N. Fourth St.