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Sun, Feb. 23

KAOL impact fee deal OK'd after fiery Call to Public

City Councilman Kerry Deering faced off with local developer Scott Dunton and church minister Howard Pennington in heated debate Monday over the waiver of impact fees for the Kingman Academy of Learning and past treatment of the developers by Council and Mayor Les Byram.

"The builders are absolutely being choked to death," Dunton said during the Call to the Public. "And, by the law, I think you need to charge the impact fees where it's not a discretionary situation, where someone can be treated differently than someone else."

Dunton referred to the development agreement between the city and KAOL, which the former waived more than $96,000 in transportation, water and sewer development impact fees in exchange for city use of school property over the next four years.

The city has worked with KAOL under an informal "gentlemen's agreement" for the exchange of such services for 12 years, according to the mayor.

Council unanimously approved that agreement, along with the transfer of $96,010.23 from the city's general fund into the respective impact fee accounts, later in Monday's meeting.

Dunton said when the debate over the implementation of impact fees first started, "I stood in front of you and asked you to please consider not charging impact fees to Howard Pennington's church."

Pennington is the senior pastor for Praise Chapel, located at 419 Harrison St. Dunton said, "The thing with the church is it's gone from a unanimous vote not to charge them impact fees to Mr. Beecher saying that you had to charge them impact fees."

Paul Beecher is the former city manager who was terminated by Council after an executive session evaluation Aug. 10. Prior to his removal, Beecher was hounded by accusations of illegal actions and improper communications via e-mail.

Dunton then claimed Deering told Pennington that he was "a crook and a thief and a charlatan," which Deering vehemently denied. Dunton further claimed that, in a meeting between Travin Pennington and Byram, Deering invited himself into the room and threatened that he would "like to kick the crap out of Howard."

Travin Pennington is a local developer and Howard's son. Dunton said, "How can a church have $300,000 in impact fees and now, after two years of all this arguing and fighting, it's worked down to $150,000? But tonight, with the stroke of a pen, you're gonna give back $96,000 to the Kingman Academy of Learning." Deering smirked as Dunton continued, "And we don't want you to charge 'em. We all love 'em. They're great. But how can't a church be treated at least as good as these other businesses?"

Deering questioned Dunton as to whether he was actually present during the conversation he said occurred between Deering and Travin Pennington.

When Dunton replied that he was not present, Deering said, "So everything was hearsay."

Later in the Call to the Public, Howard Pennington alleged that Deering "said that the only people that go to (Praise Chapel) are druggies and bikers."

"That is a flat-out lie," Deering said. "What I did say was, when you and I had our little talk, I did not call you a liar or a scumbag or anything like that. I said, 'I don't know too many preachers that are developers and that live in a big house, drive fancy cars and have streets named after them, and want to put private enterprise in their church to make money off the church.

"And I said, you know what, I know you have Jacob's Ladder, and you have people that are on drug rehab and that are basically struggling, and that it's a shame that you take advantage of them," Deering said, pointing at Pennington.

When Pennington reminded Deering of the meeting between Travin Pennington and Byram, Deering again said he did not make a statement that he'd "like to kick the crap out of Howard."

"No, I said, 'Too bad when someone acts the way they do - it's not the way it used to be, and I said, you know what, sometimes we feel like that, and I wouldn't mind," Deering said.

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