Blight’s out in Castle Pines North

Posted 11/4/10

Castle Pines North said “no” to blight in a landslide vote on Election Night. The effort to declare portions of the city blighted failed at the …

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Blight’s out in Castle Pines North

Posted

Castle Pines North said “no” to blight in a landslide vote on Election Night. The effort to declare portions of the city blighted failed at the polls, with Election Night results showing 2,915 people against the city’s effort to blight a piece of undeveloped property. The final tally reflects more than 66 percent of the residents disagreed with council’s decision to create an urban renewal authority in Castle Pines North.

Opponents to the urban renewal authority issued a statement of gratitude to residents who voted against the city’s formation of the authority.

“We want to thank the people of Castle Pines North for demonstrating extraordinary courage in standing up to City Council and abolishing City Council’s fiscally reckless Urban Renewal Authority,” according to the written statement signed by .Resa Labossiere, Deanna Merrill, Stacie Sneider.

The three were part of a resident initiative called “Blight’s Not Right,” which embarked on a grass roots effort to reverse city council’s May decision to declare portions of the city blighted. The city’s action was to create an urban renewal authority as a finance tool for future public improvements.

Covered within the blighted area was a parcel of vacant property of more than 3,300 acres slated for development by The Canyons. Reaction to the effort to town council’s decision was swift.

Blight’s Not Right immediately began its campaign to reverse council’s decision, successfully petitioning for a ballot question to let voters decide whether to declare portions of Castle Pines North blighted. The sole opponent to the urban renewal authority on city council was Mayor Jeff Huff.

Huff praised the public process that led to the ballot question to abolish the urban renewal authority.

“It is obviously something people cared very deeply about,” Huff said. “It was a controversial but very important topic. I’m glad it got vetted through the electoral process. People who are passionate about their future can implement change in their government. We’ve seen that here tonight. People in Castle Pines North have taken an active interest in their local government and I hope that continues.”

Proponents to the blight effort included a majority of city council members who voted to approve the measure. The day after the election, city council member John Ewing, Ward 3, confirmed the city has discussed the future possibility of revisiting the urban renewal effort. City council could renew the effort in two years from now, Ewing said.

Opponents to the measure were critical of city council’s speedy passage of the urban renewal authority. While city council met all of the legal requirements in the process, it did not reach out to its constituents or surrounding communities in advance of the formal process. If council decides to make another effort at an urban renewal authority, it will be with a different approach, Ewing said.

“We’ll be more proactive in communications,” Ewing said. “It’s not possible not to be transparent. All of the books and the meetings are open. That’s a perception issue, that’s not a real issue.”

The outcome of the election will not make a difference in the future of the slated Canyons development, Ewing said. Council came under fire amid claims the urban renewal authority appeared to benefit The Canyons.

“The Canyons has said it doesn’t matter if the urban renewal authority is there or not,” Ewing said. “(They are) going to develop when the development market is positive.”

In addition to the backlash from its residents, the city faced a number of potential lawsuits as a result of its decision to create an urban renewal authority. The authority was poised to divert future tax dollars from supporting agencies, including fire departments and county services. Douglas County was among those agencies that paved the way to legally protect its interest in the increase in property values from future development.

The outcome of the election came as a relief to Douglas County Commissioner Jack Hilbert, District 1, who discovered the morning after the election that the residents shut down the urban renewal authority.

“That’s amazing,” Hilbert said. “That’s a community at work.”

More election day changes for Castle Pines (not) North

Residents of Castle Pines North opted for a name change on Election Day, voting to change its name to the City of Castle Pines. About 75 percent of the residents supported a measure to drop the “North” in Castle Pines North.

“It’s great to lose the North in Castle Pines North,” Huff said.

Castle Pines voters also stated their preference for the Castle Pines North Metropolitan District as the city’s water service provider and said no to medical marijuana, voting to ban commercial medical marijuana centers, optional premises cultivation centers and medical marijuana infused products manufacturers with nearly 80 percent of voters supporting the ban.

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