Burlingame set for vote
City voters will have a say on the annexation of land for the controversial Burlingame Ranch housing project in May, but the fate of two citizen initiatives has been placed in limbo with the filing of protests against both of them Monday.The City Council voted 4-1 yesterday to put a referendum on the annexation of the Bar/X Ranch on the May 3 ballot, hours after citizens turned in a referendum petition that, too, is aimed at forcing a public vote on the annexation. The petition was signed by 836 people; 491 signatures were needed, said circulator Bert Myrin.While the referendum circulators were submitting the petition to the city clerk late yesterday afternoon, the two protests were also delivered.The protests were filed by J.E. DeVilbiss, retired district court judge. They raise questions about both the signatures and the substance of the initiatives, according to his attorney, Herb Klein. Supplements to the protests will be filed by Wednesday, he said.”He’s a concerned citizen,” Klein said of his client. “He’s a concerned elector and he’s a supporter of affordable housing.”The city clerk’s office must arrange a hearing on the protests by April 5; in the past, an outside hearing officer has been contracted to handle such cases. In the meantime, the council voted to put the questions for both initiatives on the May 3 ballot, but then approved a resolution postponing the election on both measures until the protests are resolved. That may or may not occur in time to put them before voters in May.Dwight Shellman, one of two former Pitkin County commissioners who was instrumental in bringing the initiatives forward, urged the council not to put the annexation referendum on the May ballot and instead let the question come forward through the petitions filed yesterday.Ideally, the two initiatives, which address broader policies regarding future development of affordable housing, and the annexation referendum, would be put forward at the same election, Shellman said.”I would urge you to make sure these do not get disconnected,” he said.A couple of council members, however, were quick to point out that the circulators of the two initiatives have said all along that the measures aren’t about Burlingame. The referendum is about Burlingame and should be on the May ballot, even if the two initiatives are delayed, council members agreed.Only Councilman Torre voted against putting the referendum on the ballot, saying he’d prefer to let the petitions submitted by citizens take that issue forward.Shellman not only pushed to let the referendum vote come later in the summer, but called on the council to put Burlingame through the rigors that would be required by one of the initiatives – an independent audit of the project’s financing by a certified public accountant, followed by a public vote once all the costs have been disclosed.”I will raise the money to pay for half the cost of that CPA doing that job,” he said.One of the initiatives would require voter approval of city housing developments of more than a certain size or amount of public subsidy; the other would prohibit the city from entering into preannexation or annexation agreements that assure development outcomes or waive land-use requirements.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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