Thursday, May 21, 2015

Blue River residents collect nearly 100 signatures to stall Ruby Placer development

#Blue River, Colorado.

A small collection of Blue River residents and homeowners successfully stalled development on the Ruby Placer parcel for the second time in less than a year.
The town accepted a petition Wednesday, May 20, signed by nearly 100 residents opposed to the annexation and rezoning of the 48-acre parcel, a densely wooded site that’s been slated for mixed-use development since March 2014.
On March 17, the Blue River Board of Trustees passed an emergency ordinance to rezone the site for nearly triple its original density, which gave residents a 30-day window to petition the town’s decision.
Between then and April 10, a passionate group led by Michele Tonti and Mitch Weiss went door-to-door collecting signatures from registered voters. They also lobbied for their position, Weiss said, and were surprised to find the majority of voters didn’t know details about the development.
“I was blown away at the comments from the citizens when we were going around town,” Weiss said. “A lot of people were totally unaware that this was even happening, and they were really upset that a project of this size was happening and they hadn’t been advised.”
Her property butts up against Ruby Placer, and she noted that the town notified only homeowners within 300 feet.
The residents were required by state statute to gather 42 signatures, or 5 percent of the town’s elector base. On April 10 they submitted 94 valid signatures to the state, Weiss said.
Town officials had the opportunity to protest the petition, but at the May 19 board of trustees meeting, town attorney John Dunn told residents that officials would not file an action. Town administrator and deputy clerk Michelle Eddy confirmed this the following day, which was the final day the town could protest.
Come June 19, the town board faces two decisions: either nullify the annexation or put the question to public vote at the next municipal election. The property developers, Cabin Properties LLC and Carl A. Schmidt Living Trust, will also wait until then to modify any design plans.
“It’s hard to say what this does for the timeline,” said Danny Teodoru, the developer’s legal counsel. “We’ll just have to see how things play out in June.”
The petition halted planning and construction on the parcel, forcing the town to rethink a series of emergency ordinances passed in March.
“I’m elated the Blue River residents have the right to actively participate in these decisions now,” Weiss said. “This will impact our environment, our quality of life and our water system. It’s unfortunate that the town had to be legally compelled to be more transparent.”
This isn’t the first time that residents and the Blue River board butted heads over Ruby Placer.
In July 2014, roughly a month after the town first annexed the parcel in a regular ordinance, Tonti attempted to file a petition against the annexation. She claimed the town didn’t fully inform its residents about the impacts of a multi-use development.
The town rejected the petition, so Tonti filed an injunction in Summit County District Court. She won on Nov. 12, which forced the developers to go back to the drawing board.
They returned early this year with a slightly revised annexation and rezoning plan. The town approved both by emergency ordinance in March, spurring Tonti and Weiss to try the petition once more.
“The owners of the property have the right to develop, but they have to do so in a way that’s responsible,” Weiss said. “The same goes for the town. Now, we all have the right to discuss this project and decide on the future.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.