September 10, 2004
A group is delaying plans to gather signatures for a possible referendum on an estimated $42 million incentive package for a proposed Mesa mall.
Citizens Opposed to Subsidies backed off the petition drive after the group’s attorney said the Mesa City Council’s negotiations with developers can’t be subjected to a referendum yet, said political consultant Paul Ulan, chairman of the group.
But the group plans to move forward if the council takes action which can be taken to the ballot, he said.
Citizens Opposed to Subsidies filed referendum paperwork with the city on Aug. 26, after the council discussed the incentive package.
"It was a council study session and not a full council meeting," Ulan said. "There was consensus to move forward, but there was not a vote that they need to do something."
Ulan’s firm, Primary Consultants, formed Citizens Opposed to Subsidies with
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 99 to oppose subsidies for the 200-acre Riverview at Dobson shopping complex near the loops 101 and 202 interchange.
According to developers Kimco and DeRito Properties, Wal-Mart Supercenter is one of the potential tenants.
The union and Ulan fought unsuccessful battles recently to stop the nonunion retailer, which has been criticized for its labor practices, from building in Mesa and Gilbert.
Ulan said the group will file a referendum if the city does offer a $42 million subsidy for the project, but wasn’t sure if a smaller incentive package or Wal-Mart dropping out of the project would thwart a petition drive.
The incentive package and mall has been endorsed by the steering committee of the Mesa Grande Community Alliance, which represents neighborhoods near where the mall would go.
"The Committee recognizes that such incentives are actually an investment in the future of our neighborhood and our City," a statement from the group said.
The incentives would come in the form of waived fees, sales tax rebates and improvements made to the property.