Steamboat 700 petitioners claim 1,334 signatures | SteamboatToday.com

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Steamboat 700 petitioners claim 1,334 signatures

Organizers say drive for annexation vote going strong; Thursday is deadline

— Organizers of a petition drive to put the Steamboat 700 annexation to a public vote said Tuesday that they have submitted 1,334 signatures to the city clerk.

Cindy Constantine is chairwoman of Let's Vote, the committee circulating petitions seeking a public vote. In an e-mail today, Constantine wrote that the committee has submitted 42 petitions containing the signatures to the office of City Clerk Julie Franklin. The signatures are pending verification by Franklin's office. In its initial submittal last week, the committee turned in 14 petitions containing more than 600 signatures.

Franklin confirmed Tuesday that she received the petitions and has begun the verification process. She said she has verified signatures on only five of the petitions.

"I'm hoping to get through a lot later this week and this weekend," she said.

Constantine, echoing comments made last week by Let's Vote committee spokesman Tim Rowse, said public response to the petition drive has been positive.

"All 30 petition circulators have reported overwhelming support of our efforts to put the decision to a citywide vote and have met with little resistance," Constantine wrote.

The committee's reported total of 1,334 signatures is well more than the requirement of 829 signatures, a number that represents 10 percent of Steamboat Springs' registered voters in the last regular municipal election. The committee is still collecting signatures across the city and will keep a petition available during business hours at Elk River Guns, 1320 Dream Island Plaza, until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Thursday is the deadline for the committee to submit petitions to Franklin's office.

Constantine's husband, Ken, owns Elk River Guns.

"We will have a final signature count … next Tuesday morning," Cindy Constantine wrote.

Steamboat 700 is a 487-acre annexation approved by the Steamboat Springs City Council on Oct. 13 in a 4-3 vote. It proposes about 2,000 homes and 380,000 square feet of commercial space just west of the current city limits.

Some say Steamboat 700 would give the city a smart place to grow, provide affordable housing and help pay for needed city improvements; others say the annexation is too large, is happening too fast and does not adequately address impacts to the city's water supplies, traffic and more.

Cindy Constantine has said the committee simply wants to ask residents, "Would you like the opportunity to vote on the recent decision made by City Council to annex Steamboat 700?"

Steamboat Springs residents Omar Campbell, Greg Rawlings, Terry Armstrong, Rowse and Cindy Constantine make up the Let's Vote committee.

The referendum process will proceed as follows:

If the petition is deemed insufficient, the committee has two days to file a "notice of intention to amend the petition" and then has 10 days to supplement the petition with additional signatures. If the petition is deemed insufficient again, it is forwarded to the City Council as such, unless within two days the committee files a request that the City Council review the petition. The City Council then would decide whether the petition is sufficient. The sufficiency of the petition also is subject to any legal challenges that may be brought in District Court.

If the city verifies that referendum petitions contain at least 829 valid signatures, the annexation ordinance will be suspended, and the petition will be submitted to the City Council.

Once a petition is deemed sufficient and forwarded to the City Council, council members can voluntarily repeal the annexation ordinance or submit a referendum of the annexation to voters to decide whether to repeal the ordinance. Indications from City Council members are that a majority of them would choose to put the question to a citywide vote.

If the City Council does not repeal the ordinance, the question will go to voters in a special election likely to be held in January or February. It would be an all-mail election, like the Nov. 3 vote. As required by the annexation agreement, Steamboat 700 would pay for the election.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com