Petitions offer another chance for a reasonable agreement
To the Editor:
The Colorado Constitution provides citizens with the right to object to town decisions through referendum petitions — providing the opportunity for checks and balances in local government. On July 5, we submitted petitions with 73 signatures, 50 percent more than the 48 required (5 percent of registered Fraser voters) that object to Byers Peak Properties (BPP) annexation terms.
We undertook this effort with full respect and appreciation of the work already done during lengthy negotiations and evaluation. Our concern is that Town Board members were not given complete and accurate information and the agreement negotiated with Byers Peak Properties (BPP) on our behalf doesn’t provide the protection claimed.
As we’ve talked with experts, we’ve learned our concerns are correct and that reasonable adjustments could be made to the annexation agreements.
First, the petitions will not “take this decision out of the hands of the board,” as Mayor Smith stated. The petitions let town board members reconsider their decision in light of the number of constituents who signed the petitions and new implications of the agreements we’ve identified.
With the appropriate open process, the Town Board might better understand the risks and demand a more reasonable agreement. If the town board continues to support these ordinances in their current form, then there will be an election.
In the town presentation, Town Manager Jeff Durbin, told us: “Upon execution of the agreement, the Town will be provided access to existing and new water storage located at Grand Park and Byers Peak Ranch.” But, as confirmed by the town’s special legal counsel, there is nothing in the current agreement to support this claim. What other misunderstandings exist?
If Fraser’s future growth continues at the average rate over the last 15 years, all BPP water tap fees over the next 35 years will be applied to the separate fund to reimburse BPP for pond construction costs. At the same time, the BPP Development will be using the existing town water system, adding additional stress and increasing the need for infrastructure improvements, but none of its water tap fees will be applied to these costs.
Do these petitions mean the land will be developed as part of the county? Community planning efforts, ongoing since the late 1970s, suggest that the BPP land should be developed as part of Fraser. As long as negotiations continue in good faith and town requirements are reasonable, it’s likely that county commissioners will continue to insist that BPP negotiate with the town. The needs of the almost 900 registered voters in the Town cannot be ignored by the elected commissioners.
With these petitions and the opportunity to reconsider these issues during a more open process, we believe the Town and BPP can reach an agreement that protects Fraser taxpayers and leads to a development that better serves the Fraser Valley. Please let us know if you would like to receive ongoing updates or be involved in upcoming discussions by e-mailing or calling me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 726-9500, or Andy at email@example.com, or 726-4099.
Jane Mather and Andrew Miller
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Here is this week’s Grand County fishing report.