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Sun, Oct. 20

What next for Wal-Mart

The Kingman City Council's denial of a rezoning request by Wal-Mart may not be the last word in a growing community controversy about the company's plans to build a superstore.

Five of seven council members favored the rezoning, but six votes were required for passage.

"Whatever happens next is up to Wal-Mart and the citizens of Kingman," Mayor Les Byram said.

"The City Council supported the superstore 5 to 2, but two votes were enough to deny the zoning request."

Council members Ray Lyons and Frank McVey voted against the rezone citing concerns for traffic and lost jobs in competing grocery stores.

Wal-Mart could redesign the site to eliminate the need for a super majority vote.

During Monday's city council meeting, Wal-Mart community affairs manager Peter Kanelos said a group not affiliated with the company gathered 17,000 customer signatures favoring a superstore, which would be built just north of the current Wal-Mart on Beverly Avenue.

Lyons and McVey did not immediately return phone calls Wednesday for comment.

Kanelos said the company is still looking at all available options.

"We will ask the county to extend the closing date (for the 11.5 acres purchased from Mohave County)," he said.

"Options include redesigning the site and re-applying for the proper zoning."

He said other options include other sites, including those outside the city, or not building a superstore in the Kingman area.

Mohave County Manager Ron Walker said the county expects Wal-Mart to close on the deal.

"The property was sold 'as is' with no deals on the zoning," Walker said.

"We are expecting them to deal in good faith.

People are speculating on what that means.

The land was offered at public auction.

As far as we are concerned, the property is theirs."

Wal-Mart bid $652,500 for the 11.5 acres at an auction May 5 and was to pay about $13,500 in escrow fees.

Mohave County District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers said Wal-Mart has a $70,000 nonrefundable earnest deposit on the property, which would be forfeited if the sale does not close.

"We would have to investigate our legal obligations if Wal-Mart backs out," Walker said.

The property value would be less than half what Wal-Mart paid if the parcel cannot be zoned commercial, Byram said.

The Wal-Mart parcel and vacant county property between Mohave Wash and Burbank Street and Airway and Beverly avenues are shown to comprise a regional shopping center site in the Kingman General Plan.

No general plan amendment would be required to zone the Wal-Mart parcel commercial.

Although the City Council voted 5-2 in favor of the request, rezoning was denied because the issue required a super majority of six of the seven council votes.

City ordinances and state statutes outline the super majority process.

When a property owner's boundary to land to be rezoned is more than 20 percent of that land's boundary, a protest by that one owner can require the super majority vote.

Smith's Food and Drug protested the Wal-Mart rezoning after the matter was considered by the Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission.

Smith's is the only other private landowner bordering the 11.5 acres that Wal-Mart needs to have zoned commercial to build the superstore.

Wal-Mart already has options on three other private parcels bordering the property.

Those parcels, which are zoned commercial, are between Stockton Hill Road and North Glen Street and border the 11.5 acres on the west.

Wal-Mart says the 200,000 square-foot store, parking lots and access roads require 25 acres.

John Chapman led the petition drive for Wal-Mart superstore in Kingman.

He said he was disappointed in the vote.

"Two members of a seven-member council should not be able to keep the elderly and low-income people in the area from shopping at Wal-Mart," Chapman said.

"They are on fixed incomes and need to save when they shop."

Ken Hedler contributed to this story.

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