Replacing Eagle with Pitkin easier than Basalt thought |

Replacing Eagle with Pitkin easier than Basalt thought

Getting the middle Roaring Fork Valley out of Eagle County andinto Pitkin County wouldn’t be as difficult as some Basalt officialsassumed. When the Basalt Town Council voted 6-0 Tuesday night to investigateredrawing county lines, members said it would require a statewidevote or special legislation to enable local residents to settlethe issue. But Colorado statutes already place the issue in local control,said Eagle County Attorney Jim Fritze. According to Fritze, here’s how the process of “striking off”a portion of Eagle County and placing it in Pitkin County wouldwork: First, a petition to make the switch would have to be supportedby the majority of voters in that area. If the area proposed for transfer from Eagle County into PitkinCounty was just the town of Basalt, the petition would have tobe signed by a majority of electors in town. If the area was allof the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, it would haveto be supported by half of the electors in that area. Second, the petition would be submitted to the Eagle County commissioners.If the signatures were found valid and there were no other legalflaws, the commissioners would schedule an election. They couldrequire the dissidents to cover the cost of the election. Third, Eagle County would send word to Pitkin County that thepetition was valid and an election was required. The Pitkin Countycommissioners would also be forced to schedule the election. Neithercounty could choose to keep it off the ballot. Fourth, all registered voters in both counties would go to thepolls to settle the issue. “The measure dies if both countiesdon’t support it,” Fritze said. The Eagle County attorney said he was familiar with the laws governingthe “striking off” of a part of the county because the issue ariseswith Basalt or some other area every once in a while. It reared its head again this week at the suggestion of BasaltCouncilwoman Jacque Whitsitt. She proposed that the town leadefforts to study how county lines could be adjusted and what itwould mean to residents of the affected area. Whitsitt said the study will look at the options of replacingEagle County with Pitkin County in the midvalley as well as thecreation of a new county in the valley. The council voted 6-0 to support her proposal. The main complaintlodged against Eagle County was its position – or lack thereof- on growth control and regional planning efforts. Although the council supported Whitsitt’s suggestion, severalboard members stressed the effort must come from midvalley citizens,not their board. Whitsitt said Thursday she also learned that the process of replacingEagle with Pitkin in the midvalley was less complicated. “I thought any process required a statewide vote,” she said. Whitsitt said she received comments on the idea from several peopleThursday, the majority in favor of some type of adjustment. Peoplewho want to express an opinion can contact her at 927-2414.

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