Steamboat 700 petitioners submit 600 signatures

Let's Vote committee required to collect 829 signatures by Nov. 12 to force referendum of annexation

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— The committee that hopes to bring the city of Steamboat Springs' annexation of Steamboat 700 to referendum submitted its first collection of signatures Tuesday.

City Clerk Julie Franklin confirmed Wednesday that the committee, known as Let's Vote, has submitted 14 petitions. The group says those petitions contain more than 600 signatures from city residents. Petitioners have until Nov. 12 to submit the 829 signatures necessary to trigger the city's referendum process.

"The response from voters has been overwhelmingly favorable when asked if they would like to vote on the Steamboat 700 annexation," Let's Vote spokesman Tim Rowse said. "The petition committee is impressed by how many voters are concerned about the annexation and want to learn more."

Rowse said the committee already has checked its signatures against the city's voter registration rolls. The city also will verify the signatures. Franklin said a number of clerical steps must be taken before she can begin that process.

"I haven't even gotten to the point of verifying them," Franklin said.

Only signatures from city residents who write their address as it is listed on their voter registration will be counted. In addition to the city's verification process, those who opposed the referendum will be allowed to view the petition and challenge any of the signatures.

Volunteers are canvassing the city seeking signatures. Petitions also are available to sign at Elk River Guns and Orange Peel Bicycles. Rowse said there are an additional 46 petitions that volunteers have not returned. Given that the first 14 petitions garnered more than 600 signatures, Rowse said the committee is comfortable that it will meet the requirement of 829 signatures.

"I'd say we're fairly confident that will happen," he said.

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.

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 was.

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