Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Mon, Dec. 09

Vestar catches heat in Gilbert

KINGMAN - The development company currently working with the city of Kingman on a proposed interchange and commercial district off Interstate 40 is feeling some pressure from citizens in Gilbert, Ariz.

On April 3, the city of Gilbert signed an agreement to allow Vestar Development Co. to make $9.7 million in improvements to the city before a shopping center is constructed. The agreement requires the city to repay Vestar the $9.7 million out of sales taxes collected from the new shopping mall.

But some Gilbert residents opposed to the idea have formed a group called Stop Developer Incentives, which has circulated a petition that will put the agreement out to the voters in early 2009, when the city's next election is held.

This isn't the first time Vestar's infrastructure reimbursement agreements, or sales tax incentive agreements, have caught some heat. A group of citizens in Oro Valley, Ariz., also challenged Vestar's sales tax deal with their city.

The city of Kingman hasn't agreed to swap infrastructure for sales taxes, but the company representing the city on the Kingman Crossing project recently recommended that officials begin negotiations with Vestar on such an agreement.

The Gilbert group needed 855 signatures to place the issue on the ballot, and after hitting the streets with its petition, members of Stop Developer Incentives gathered 1,281 signatures, which were turned in late Monday afternoon to the Gilbert city clerk's office, according to a report published Monday in The Arizona Republic.

The city council went into executive session Tuesday to discuss the possibility of repealing the agreement so the citizens could have more time for public comment, but City Manager George Pettit said Wednesday that repealing the ordinance would have been illegal and would undermine the constitution.

He could not disclose what was discussed during the private session Tuesday, but he did say the issue with Gilbert residents won't be addressed until the May 22 meeting. In the meantime, members of Stop Developer Incentives will wait to hear whether enough of their 1,281 signatures are valid to put a referendum on the 2009 ballot.

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