Board wary of playing around with park plans

KINGMAN - A community park planned for the Mohave Valley area is causing a stir again after Mohave County District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson objected to the county waiving zoning fees for the project on Monday.

The Board voted 4 - 1 to approve the zoning for a community park being built for the county by the Mohave Valley-Fort Mohave Community Park Committee.

"We gave a quarter of a million dollars to this group and now we're doing the rezoning and I'm sure it's under our name because ... are there fees involved in this? Or are fees being waived again?" Johnson asked County Planning and Zoning Manager Christine Ballard.

"When Mohave County is the applicant in a rezone, there are no fees involved," Ballard said.

District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss' request that the county give $250,000 to the committee in February in order to match a $250,000 gift from an anonymous donor created a lengthy discussion before it was finally approved.

"We've been waiving the fees on this project, where we waived no one else's fees," Johnson said. "I believe if we have a fee everyone pays it."

District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss, who has shepherded the project through the county's approval process, didn't see a problem with waiving the fees for the park because the property was designed to be a gift to the county.

"This item concerns a community park which citizens are attempting to build and the Board has agreed to accept it once it's complete," Moss said. "Charging them a fee is akin to someone building a house or building for the county and then the county charging them for the privilege of making a gift to the county. I don't see any problem with the county waiving fees. For one, I think it's good policy and two, common courtesy. Any other results would essentially be a slap in the face to the community."

Johnson disagreed.

"I believe the slap in the face comes to the citizens of Mohave County," said Johnson. "This was originally supposed to be an improvement district. It was formed as a district for those people to pay for the park at no cost to the taxpayers. Now we're getting into where the county is not only giving $250,000 to a nonprofit, we're getting into the business of taking this property over in the future at a cost to the county."

Johnson also pointed out that the Board has not formally voted to accept the park into the county's maintenance system once it is finished. He asked how much it would cost the county to maintain the park.

"We're giving away free stuff for something we don't have," Johnson said.

County Administrator Mike Hendrix confirmed that the Board has not formally accepted the park. But maintenance of the park, once it was accepted, would be minimal because the local high school district has already agreed in writing to keep up the park.

Hendrix pointed out that the city of Kingman has a similar maintenance agreement for Centennial Park with the Kingman Academy of Learning.

He also noted that the Board already agreed to waive the fees when it approved the county administrator's report last month.

Moss stated that part of the agreement between the landowner and the nonprofit board building the park was that the property must be turned over to the county once the project is finished.