Kingman Crossing takes first step forward

Project could have ramifications for planned I-11

Tuesday’s public hearing on a general plan amendment needed to go forward with the Kingman Crossing project drew nearly 300 people, by far the largest City Council audience in years, according to Mayor Richard Anderson. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

Tuesday’s public hearing on a general plan amendment needed to go forward with the Kingman Crossing project drew nearly 300 people, by far the largest City Council audience in years, according to Mayor Richard Anderson. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

KINGMAN - Now the hard work begins.

The City Council on Tuesday in a 5-2 vote approved a major amendment to General Plan 2030, one that is considered the first of many steps on the road to building Kingman Crossing.

Nearly 50 people spoke during a three-hour public hearing. Most seats were filled at the 300-seat Mohave County Board of Supervisors auditorium at what Mayor Richard Anderson said was the largest City Council audience in at least five years.

Unlike all previous meetings and public hearings regarding the amendment in which public sentiment was divided fairly evenly, supporters of Kingman Crossing heavily outweighed opponents at Tuesday's pivotal public hearing.

In essence, the amendment - if voters ultimately agree - will allow the city to sell about 151 of 168 acres of publicly owned land, which is located south of Interstate 40 and north of undeveloped Airfield Avenue, and between undeveloped Sage and Cherokee streets.

The end game is to sell the land to a major developer who would agree to pay multiple millions of dollars to construct Kingman's fourth interstate traffic interchange and develop retail outlets and restaurants.

Voters will be asked to approve the land sale in the November 2016 election.

The resolution to amend the general plan calls for the land use, currently designated as open space and parks, to be changed to regional commercial, which would match 148 acres of privately owned land on the other side of the interstate.

Still to be done is a zoning change, which must go through the public hearing process. Regional commercial is a type of zoning that can be tailored to restrict certain businesses from operating, such as truck stops, RV parks, BMX tracks, and several others.

State Rep. Gina Cobb, R-Kingman, spoke in favor of the amendment, and she introduced a concern that hadn't been mentioned in previous meetings.

Regarding the planned construction of Interstate 11 linking Phoenix and Las Vegas, Cobb said Kingman is in danger of being bypassed, which would have catastrophic consequences.

Fresh off her first term in the statehouse, Cobb said she was advised of the potential snub while the Legislature was in session.

"Kingman is on the chopping block for I-11," she said. "We have to step up to say we are in business," she said.

Anderson said a key employee with the Arizona Department of Transportation recently told him Kingman would have to show it's willing and able to handle the new interstate.

Brian Turney is another prominent Kingman resident who spoke in favor of the project. The Kingman Regional Medical Center CEO said the hospital board "reaffirmed" its support of Kingman Crossing at its meeting in February, and he offered a handful of reasons why.

He said access to KRMC's Hualapai Campus on Santa Rosa Drive must be improved before the landlocked facility can become a hospital.

Turney also said KRMC competes nationally for physicians and other key employees, and they require five things: Good housing, weather and schools, progressive leadership and shopping opportunities.

Approving the amendment, and making a go of Kingman Crossing, he said, "would ultimately improve the quality of life in the community."

Travis Lingenfelter said Kingman Crossing would help lure professors to Kingman's Mohave Community College campus and top-tier managers to the city's manufacturers.

Other residents who supported the measure did so for a number of reasons.

In no particular order, they are:

• Enhanced shopping choices would benefit residents, add sales taxes to city coffers, keep people from traveling outside of the area to shop and create jobs.

• More jobs means more youth stay in Kingman rather than move away to find work.

• "We have bled the life out of Stockton Hill Road," said Cobb of Kingman's congested and fairly dangerous commercial corridor, a point several people repeated in voicing their support.

• Kingman Crossing represents an opportunity that can't be ignored.

Opponents have contended from the beginning the push for a major plan amendment that began two months after voters approved the general plan in November circumvented their vote.

Some even alleged the move was deliberate.

And while some opponents voiced concerns ranging from the need for more open space to worries over getting stuck with a $45 million bill, most seem to have more of a problem with the process than the plan.

That's the stance Councilwoman Carole Young took before she voted against the amendment. Jen Miles also voiced concerns over voters and "the integrity of the governing process" before she voted no.

Miles also downplayed any significance Kingman Crossing might have in relation to Interstate 11.

Vice Mayor Mark Wimpee said the issue had been widely misunderstood, and he was pleased with the turnout Tuesday when comments from both proponents and opponents revealed the public had become well versed in the plan.

Councilman Larry Carver said he would have loved to get the issue on the ballot - City Attorney Carl Cooper said state law precludes the Council from doing so.

"It's not a sure thing, but if we don't have anything to offer, we're killing ourselves," Carver said.

Councilman Mark Abram, who serves as the Council's liaison to the Planning and Zoning Commission, said Kingman Crossing could bring the growth project supporters want to see.

He compared Kingman's current situation to a three-legged stool. A lack of retail keeps employers who pay a living wage out of Kingman. A lack of employers keeps residents from moving to Kingman, and a lack of residents keeps retail from coming to the city.