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Sat, Oct. 19

Rezone request raises concerns

KINGMAN - Tuesday's meeting of the Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission went mostly drama-free, no doubt a welcome change from last month's heated discussions over the controversial Tuscany Village rezone.

With Chairwoman Dorian Trahan and Vice-chair Dave Adams both absent, Commissioner Mike Schoeff presided over a six-item agenda that passed in its entirety with little fanfare.

Some objections were raised, however, over a request for a conditional-use permit made by NAZCARE Inc., a mental health services company operating in seven cities throughout northern Arizona.

NAZCARE seeks a permit in hopes of converting a house at 307 Kier St., zoned R-MH-6: Residential, Manufactured Home, 6,000 square foot minimum lot size, into an educational and training facility for people with mental and substance abuse disorders.

Several residents living around the subject property asked commissioners to deny the permit on the grounds that NAZCARE's clients could pose a danger to the neighborhood.

"Our concern is the types of clients they're going to bring to the neighborhood," said resident Michael Ramirez. "What happens if these people don't reconnect with society?"

Ramirez's wife, Vickie, noted that the surrounding neighborhood was comprised of mostly lower-income housing. She said she had enough difficulty trying to sell her house in the current environment, and worried that having the NAZCARE facility next door would lower her home's value further.

The issue was further complicated by NAZCARE's purchase of several nearby residences for the purpose of housing some of its rehabilitated clients. That proposal stoked residents' fears but technically had nothing to do with the conditional-use permit case, despite being tangentially related to the facility's operations.

"The residential is not connected to the recovery center," said NAZCARE CEO Roberta Howard. "It is residential open for low-income affordable housing, and (residents) would have to qualify, basically by (Housing and Urban Development) standards. Those would be people who are basically already stable and looking for permanent housing."

Planning Director Tom Duranceau warned commissioners not to dwell too heavily on the matter, as the commission had no regulatory control over who can and cannot choose to live in a house, regardless of whether they used the NAZCARE facility.

"There are community facilities all over the city for people of various clientele types who live in single-family or multiple-family units, and we don't discuss that at all," he said.

Commissioner Matt Ladendecker acknowledged that residents had a valid concern, but he was unsure the commission had the right to address that concern. Erring on the side of caution, he suggested that, should it pass, residents could still file complaints to challenge the permit.

"This conditional-use permit could potentially be reviewed if it's noticeably changing or affecting the neighborhood in a negative way," he said.

Howard noted that, since first opening in 2001, none of NAZCARE's seven extant facilities - six of which are also located in residential neighborhoods - had proven problematic for their surrounding neighbors. She added that, in the case of this particular property, quite a few neighbors were already patients of Mohave Mental Health.

"Our obligation is to make healthier, happier neighborhoods and communities," she said. "We have an obligation to the community as well as to the consumers we serve. It's a dual purpose."

Commissioner Bill Lacy made the motion to recommend approval of the permit, with Ladendecker seconding. The motion passed 4-1, with Sandi Minkler opposed.

Elsewhere on the agenda, commissioners:

• Voted 5-0 to recommend approval for a conditional-use permit which seeks to convert a section of a commercial property at 2202 Stockton Hill Road into a church for members of the Journey Church.

• Voted 5-0 to approve extensions of time on two preliminary subdivision plats, one for Dunton and Dunton's "Retreat at Boulder Creek," tract 6025 and one for Kingman Development Partners' "Celebrate 300," tract 6027.

•Voted 5-0 to approve a zoning ordinance text amendment requiring applicants to wait a year from either the date of Council's decision or the date of a successful voter referendum to resubmit any unsuccessful rezoning or conditional-use request.

• Voted 5-0 to initiate a text amendment to provide new regulations on sign walkers, special event signs and grand opening signs throughout the city.

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