Initiative vs. referendum

Consistently and carefully, Citizens for Responsible Growth have chosen the initiative as the correct way to help control the size of huge developments in Snowmass Village.

By definition, either an initiative or a referendum only occur when the Town Council demonstrates that it has not carefully considered all aspects of a proposed development and has not responded to citizen input. Why should we now choose the initiative over a referendum? There are two reasons: timing and compromise.

Let me explain the timing issue first. Referendums only occur at the end of a lengthy review process. If rejection occurs, then, by a vote of the electorate, a disservice has been rendered to all parties.

The developer is disadvantaged, and so are the citizens, most of whom would like to see improvements happen soon. That’s why an initiative can and should occur early in a process ” specifically, as soon as it becomes apparent that all factors are not being adequately considered in a review process.

CRG would have preferred to have the initiative vote months earlier. We waited for the completion of the three town forums (held only due to pressure from CRG), hoping that the usual process would work. Then, when it was apparent the process was still inadequate, CRG filed initiative papers on Dec. 18, 2003.

Let me now address the issue of compromise. This initiative is meant to make it very clear to developers with huge ambitions that the town has serious concerns about mass and scale that vastly exceed the town’s usual practices. Only when they see strong resolve early in their planning can developers be expected to compromise in a meaningful way.

Again, the consequence of a referendum is likely to be total rejection of a development, or reluctant acceptance of excessive size, both of which the town forums have clearly indicated our citizens do not want.

Our town should not have to wait until next fall or winter for a referendum to get these matters settled, which is yet another reason to vote “yes” on the initiative.

We are trying to keep our Base Village pictures current with developer changes. Take a look for yourself at and see how little has been eliminated.

Jim Heywood

Citizens for Responsible Growth

Snowmass Village