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Petition hits bump in road

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Parking garage developer Peter Fornell’s petition drive stalled short of its goal, but he’s gearing up for another round of signature collecting to put the project on a ballot.

Fornell launched a petition drive to put Park Place, his proposed Hyman Avenue parking garage, to voters after the Aspen City Council rejected the project late last year.

He turned in his first batch of signatures in late February, but he is 140 names short, City Clerk Kathryn Koch told him yesterday.

Fornell turned in 794 signatures; he needs 736 from registered city voters to put the matter on the ballot. Koch certified 596 of the signatures, but disqualified a number of others, including 93 from individuals who aren’t registered voters, he said Thursday.

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“I think it’s people who wanted to help me out and didn’t have the heart to tell me they weren’t registered to vote,” he said.

Nine signatures were duplicates, and a number of others came from individuals who reside in Pitkin County, but not the city of Aspen.

Fornell said he has kept on collecting signatures while Koch was tallying his initial effort and intends to supplement his original petitions with enough additional signatures to meet the threshold.

He only gets one more shot at producing enough valid signatures to force the matter to a vote.

Once Fornell gets a certified letter from Koch, expected in a day or two, he has two days to notify her in writing that he intends to supplement the petitions.

Then he has 10 days to collect additional signatures.

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to file a protest challenging any of the signatures has 40 days from the date Fornell submitted his original petition to do so, according to Koch. That deadline is April 5, she said.

If Fornell’s petition drive is successful, the City Council must either approve Park Place or set a special election and let the voters decide.

Fornell has long said he hopes a successful petition drive will spur the council to negotiate with him and come up with a compromise project that both the developers and the city can accept.

“My desire is to use this as a tool to get back in front of the City Council and come to an amicable resolution to this thing,” he said.

Fornell represents Hyman Avenue Holdings, LLC, which proposed a $6 million, 99-space parking garage next to the Benedict Commons affordable housing on Hyman. Most of the spaces in the high-tech, automated garage were to be offered for sale to individual buyers for $100,000 to $125,000 per space and made available to the general public when owners weren’t using them.

The council rejected the project on a 3-2 vote

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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