Petition calls for vote of citizens
Castle Pines North residents challenge the city’s establishment of Urban Renewal Authority; petition calls for vote of citizens
The democratic process in action; petition gatherers present CPN City Manager Gary Suiter (center left) and City Clerk Carl Kollmar (center right) with the citizen’s petition containing nearly 500 signatures which, if verified and approved, will place the establishment of the URA on the November ballot for a citizen vote.
Article by Linda Nuzum with photo by Tim Gamble
On July 21, the Castle Pines North (CPN) citizen group Blight’s Not Right turned in petitions with approximately 500 signatures formally requesting that the city’s Urban Renewal Authority (URA) be placed on the November 2010 ballot.
“The petition illustrates the power of democracy that we all have as individual citizens,” said petition organizer K
enneth Cool. “The city claimed to have held two years of discussions on the URA. However, it’s clear that those discussions didn’t adequately involve the citizens as the URA was not publicly disclosed until April 2010. The petition will force the city council to do what it has failed to do for two years: listen to and respect the citizens and allow all of us to have a say in the city’s destiny. We simply want to put the URA to a public vote.”
The CPN city council approved creation of the URA on April 27, and less than one month later (May 25) approved an Urban Renewal Plan which included The Canyons development on the east side of I-25, and “west side” properties such as the existing commercial areas and vacant commercial lots, the “CC20” parcel, and the CPN community center and proposed Castle View Park site.
“At the meetings, city council members were dismissive and discredited good faith efforts by citizens who voiced concerns,” said Stacie Sneider, another leader of the petition effort. “This election will force a public discussion of all of the issues. We were delighted by the overwhelmingly positive public response to the petition drive, and regret that we weren’t able to get back with everyone who wanted to sign, but we had plenty of signatures and wanted to turn in the petitions in ample time to get it on the ballot.” Sneider continued, “We think it sends a strong message that within 10 days, 500 homeowners pulled together through this petition to demand a chance to decide for themselves on this issue.”
CPN Mayor Jeffrey Huff, who voted against the formation of the URA, observed that, “Given the amount of public opposition expressed at the hearings, it doesn’t surprise me that the citizens have initiated this petition drive.”
Current Councilmember Kim Hoffman, who was a member of council when discussions about the URA began two years ago, stated, “I want you all to know that I support the URA which will have a commission of volunteers that will decide what projects if any, should utilize TIF [tax increment financing] over the next 25 years. As you know, our commercial area has many infrastructure issues that can be improved such as street lights, walking paths, benches and refacing of buildings so the backs of the buildings are not such an eyesore for the residents and visitors.”
According to Hoffman, “The Canyons project on the east side of I-25 is another example where TIF could be used to support appropriate infrastructure and planned commercial as a small supplement funding tool to the developers commitment to ensure specific requirements the residents feel is important.”
A spokesman for The Canyons, Darren Everett, stated, “Development of The Canyons does not rely upon urban renewal financing, so the URA doesn’t affect the timing or the feasibility of the development. We do believe that the URA is a good long-range tool for the city and look forward to a resolution based on what the voters decide.”
CPN City Manager Gary Suiter commented that “I respect the right of citizens to petition their local government, and we’ll follow all of the statutory procedures for this process.”
City Clerk Carl Kollmar has begun verifying the petition signatures, and if there are sufficient valid signatures, the petitions will be forwarded to city council to set the election schedule.
For more information on the Blight’s Not Right petition, visit www.blightsnotright.com.
For more information on the city’s URA and URA plan, attend the upcoming August 5 meeting at the CPN community center from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. or visit www.cpngov.com and