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Neighbors wrestle with parking, zoning issues
11/6/2013 6:00:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
KINGMAN - The Mohave County Board of Supervisors on Monday debated a rezoning request for a couple of residential parcels near College Circle for an adult day care center after hearing complaints from several neighbors about traffic and finding out the center may be running administrative duties out of the office.
Solo of America asked to rezone the two properties at the corner of College Drive and College Circle from single-family residential to medium-density residential to allow the day care center to continue to operate.
The center provides people with disabilities a way to learn how to cook, clean and care for themselves in a home setting and has been very successful with few complaints from the neighbors until now, said Steven Neidlinger, the executive director of programs at the facility. It has been operating in the community for the last 10 years and only recently found out it needed the zoning change to operate.
College Circle resident Tom Young disagreed with Neidlinger. The traffic generated by employees and people dropping off their loved ones at the center is unacceptable, he said. College Circle is a cul-de-sac. Sometimes there are as many as 20 cars parked along both sides of the street, he said.
"We bought into a nice rural area. We want it left residential," Young said.
Young's wife, Linda, agreed with him.
"It's extremely frustrating and it's causing problems," she said. "I look out my front window and it looks like a car sales lot over there. In the last year, we've seen a significant increase in traffic."
If the center was granted the zoning, Tom Young asked, what would happen next? Would the number of clients increase? Would other properties be zoned commercial?
Bill Abbott, who leases the property to Solo, said the company doesn't want to change anything at the center. He just wants to correct the zoning so the center can continue to operate. He also pointed out that the zoning would not open the property to commercial business uses and said he had no plans to the change the zoning of the three other properties he owns in the neighborhood.
"Solo works with people that society doesn't want to deal with," Abbott said. "I drive past this place at least once a week. This traffic thing is being so overexaggerated."
Dinah Martinez, who lives across the street from the care center, agreed with the Youngs about the traffic.
"(Solo's) doing a great job at what they're doing, but they outgrew their space," she said. "I'm across the street. I get everything. The traffic is unbelievable."
Neidlinger said he has tried to corral the traffic problem.
"We do have a parking problem," he admitted. "I've sent out memos to employees and parents about it."
He said that the number of clients served by the center has dropped from 20 to 16 and the center is shuttling many employees and clients to the site using vans.
The center has also switched the location where it gives employees their paychecks to a different office on Northern Avenue.
Kingman resident Sam Simpson, who has a daughter who goes to the center, accused the neighbors of trying to shove the center out of the neighborhood.
"There's a stigma about people with disabilities," he said, his voice cracking with emotion. "People are against these types of homes. This isn't about the parking. The stigma's got to stop."
Tom Young defended the neighbors opposed to the center.
"At no point did anyone criticize what these people do," he said. "That's not the problem."
Supervisor Gary Watson pointed out that 61 percent of the property owners in the area had signed a petition requesting the Board deny the zoning change.
Abbott said he didn't think that number was correct.
"I've spoken to a number of the neighbors and they don't have any problem with the center," he said.
District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton said she had driven through the neighborhood several times and never saw more than five cars parked in the cul-de-sac.
District 5 Supervisor Steven Moss asked Abbott if the center had a solution to the parking problem.
"There's room for parking in the back of the largest lot," Abbott said.
District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson opposed the rezone.
"I think we're just rewarding bad behavior," he said. "We're here today because someone didn't do their job 10 years ago."
Johnson asked County Planning and Zoning Manager Chris Ballard if the Board could rezone the property for a year or two to give the center time to look for another location, but Ballard said state zoning laws don't permit it.
The best solution is to require the center to have enough parking to serve its clients and employees.
Since county zoning ordinances didn't specifically list parking requirements for an adult day care center, Ballard suggested using the requirements for a child day care center.
Child day care centers are required to have one parking spot for every two employees, plus one spot for every five clients, she said.
District 2 Supervisor Hildy Angius asked if Solo was running its administrative offices out of the same buildings as the day care center.
When Neidlinger said some administrative operations are run out of the center, it immediately caught the attention of the other supervisors.
"This should be authorized for the day care center only and should include off-street parking," Johnson said. "We're getting far afield from day care use. It sounds like they're running a full-fledged business out of there."
The Board unanimously approved tabling the issue until it could find out more about the administrative duties Solo was running out of the center.
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