Another housing vote?
As promised, foes of Burlingame Ranch filed a referendum petition Tuesday that could give Aspen voters another say on the fate of the controversial housing project.The vote isn’t likely to coincide with the city’s regular May election, though, and would require a special election.Local citizens Bert Myrin and Toni Kronberg, both outspoken opponents of the development, delivered the petition to City Clerk Kathryn Koch yesterday. Kronberg and City Councilman Terry Paulson are registered as the initiators of the petition.Koch has five days to review the form of the petition and compose the paragraph that summarizes its intent. She said she hopes to have it back in the hands of its circulators by Thursday.The referendum would ask voters to repeal Ordinance 39, adopted by the Aspen City Council on Monday with Paulson dissenting. The measure approved Monday authorizes the annexation of the Bar/X Ranch, which encompasses land slated for the housing project.Petition circulators will have 30 days after Ordinance 39 is published in Sunday’s Aspen Times Weekly – until March 22 – to collect 491 signatures from registered city voters, which equals 10 percent of Aspen’s electorate.If the petition’s backers collect enough signatures, council members have the option of repealing the ordinance themselves or putting the matter before voters.City voters have already endorsed Burlingame once. They approved a preannexation agreement between the city and the Zoline family, owners of the Bar/X Ranch, in August 2000. That agreement established the general parameters of the Burlingame Ranch housing and a free-market development on the Bar/X, setting the stage for this week’s annexation of the Bar/X property.Now that the specifics of the worker housing project have been nailed down – conceptual plans for the first phase have already been approved – it’s time to check in again with voters, Kronberg said.”Now it’s time to see if that’s what the community would really support, if that’s what we really need,” she said.Meanwhile, Koch is already busy verifying the roughly 1,000 signatures on each of two initiative petitions submitted to her office by Burlingame opponents earlier this month. Both measures are intended to establish new rules regarding the development of affordable housing by the city.Koch has 30 days to finish tallying the signatures on the initiatives, but she said she hopes to be done before that. She is about two-thirds of the way through the effort, she said.The two initiatives could appear on the city’s May 3 ballot, but the referendum isn’t likely to make it, Koch said.The circulators will have a month to collect signatures on the referendum petition and Koch then has a month to verify them.”They have 30 days, I have 30 days, which puts us into the end of April and ballot questions have to be done by the end of March,” she said.The referendum petition would affect Burlingame specifically, while the two initiatives have a much broader focus, though they were spawned by the process that led to the council’s Burlingame approvals. The initiatives seek to establish new policy when it comes to city development of affordable housing. One would require a public vote to approve projects that exceed 10 units or $100,000 in per-unit public subsidy. The other would prohibit the city from entering into preannexation agreements like the one that framed Burlingame.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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