Mesa voters are one step closer to deciding the fate of the Riverview at Dobson project. The Mesa city clerk on Tuesday forwarded signatures to the Maricopa County Elections Department, that if verified, will be enough to force a city election on the project’s zoning.
Members of Valley Business Owners (And Concerned Citizens) gathered the signatures to stop the project with an estimated $80 million incentive package that was approved to bring Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World to the site.
David Molina, chairman of three political committees formed for the referendum effort, on Dec. 1 filed 4,675 signatures for Protect Mesa’s General Plan, 4,662 for Stop Excessive Subsidies and 4,675 for Stop Corporate Welfare.
City Clerk Barbara Jones inspected the petitions and found 4,468, 4,445 and 4,436 signatures, respectively, eligible for certification. Jones highlighted a 5 percent random sample that the county has 10 business days to verify. An election requires 3,261 valid signatures.
"We look to see if that person (who signed the petition) is registered and if the signature matches the signature on file," said Yvonne Reed, a county elections department spokeswoman.
Jones said the earliest possible election date is in May. "We’re confident the City Council will have to meet to decide when to hold a special election," Molina said.
The developers of the 250-acre site at Dobson Road and Loop 202 — expected to include a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, a 16-screen movie theater, "big-box" retail center, auto dealerships and an employment center — are conducting their own verification process.
"We’re in the process of going through signature by signature," said Doug Cole, a political consultant working for Kimco Developers and De Rito Partners Development. "We’ll complete that in the next few days and await to see what the county finds off the random sample."
Also on Tuesday, Molina answered a lawsuit filed Nov. 24 in Maricopa County Superior Court on behalf of Kimco and De Rito that accused him and fellow Valley Business Owners member Jan Hibbard of spreading false and defamatory information and using racist tactics to stop the project.
The lawsuit also alleged intentional interference with contractual relations or business expectancy. Molina said he is covered by political free speech and has a right to petition the government.