Letter: Moles in City Hall? | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Moles in City Hall?

I’m not saying developers have moles in City Hall, but if they did, would they look any different from this City Council and this city attorney?

Like moles, City Council opposed the city charter amendment (Referendum 1) passed by the voters in May to reign in the council’s favors to developers. Then, like a mole, the city attorney gave bad legal advice to justify ignoring the amendment. Then, like moles, the council bulled ahead, approving the variances for Base2 without obeying the amended charter. And, just like moles, City Council forced residents to gather signatures to put the Base2 variances to a public vote.

The residents think Mark Hunt’s Base2 approval was withdrawn Wednesday. The newspapers said so. But only moles would know Hunt’s application withdrawal didn’t rescind his approval. Moles would know that only City Council can rescind the Base2 approval, and that the council is required by law to do certain things to rescind the “approval.” And the council doesn’t seem to want to do those things.

Section 5.6 of the city charter and CRS 31-11-105 (the Colorado statute) give City Council only two choices after a successful petition, like the one aimed at the Base2 approval ordinance. City Council shall either rescind the approval for Base2 or they shall send the approval to a public vote. The law doesn’t permit the council to do neither. It doesn’t matter whether Hunt withdrew his application. The law doesn’t care about that. That’s because doing neither thing required by the law would leave the approval on the books. The petition only suspended the approval, it didn’t rescind it. The law requires City Council to decide between the two options (rescind or put to a public vote), so there will be no doubt about whether the approval is dead.

The city clerk tried to follow the law by putting a vote to rescind on the Monday council agenda. Somebody overruled her; the final agenda doesn’t contain that item. Why? To leave the door open for Hunt to revive Base2 later?

I am normally a suspicious person. But this one has me off the charts. The law requires City Council “promptly” to rescind the approval or “promptly” to put it to a public vote. The law couldn’t be any clearer. The city clerk sensibly said to the council (by memo) that there’s no point in a public vote if Hunt doesn’t want to do the project. So that leaves the council with only one choice under the law: rescind. There is no choice in the law of “do nothing.” But that is what City Council will do if it sticks to Monday’s agenda and fails to rescind the approval.

So where does that leave us? Rescinding doesn’t harm the residents and it complies with the law. But rescinding would make it hard to revive the Base2 project, and City Council took rescission off the agenda.

I’m not saying developers have moles in City Hall. I’m just saying.

Maurice Emmer