City sued over Park Place
The developers of a proposed downtown parking garage intend to file a lawsuit today challenging the Aspen City Council’s refusal to put the project before voters.The complaint, to be filed in District Court in Pitkin County, asks the court to order the council to put the project on a ballot.The lawsuit is the latest development in the quest by Hyman Avenue Holdings LLC to build Park Place, a 99-space, automated parking garage, next to the Benedict Commons affordable housing on Hyman Avenue.Representatives of Hyman Avenue Holdings promised to seek a courtroom remedy last month after the City Council refused their request to put Park Place to a public vote.The council initially rejected Park Place late last year. Then, developer Peter Fornell circulated a petition, collecting enough signatures to put the project before voters.Neighbors responded with a protest against his initiative petition. A hearing officer appointed by the council upheld their protest, invalidating the petition on the grounds that some elements of the petition aren’t legally valid subjects of an initiative.The lawsuit notes the developers relied on the actions of the city in providing and approving the form of the petition, which proposed the same ordinance the council voted down in rejecting the garage.The city “exceeded its jurisdiction and abused its discretion” in finding the petition was not subject to an initiative, according to the suit. The lawsuit also claims the hearing officer improperly relied on the opinion of City Attorney John Worcester in issuing her ruling.The suit asks the court to vacate the city’s finding that the petition isn’t subject to the initiative power and to order the City Council to put the matter on the ballot in the city’s next election.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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