Time to Update the City Charter – 2 Citizen Petitions are Circulating

Citizens for Rational Development are circulating two petitions to present to the City Council.  The Council will have two options once the petitions have been approved by the City Clerk.  They can either approve the changes or move to have the questions put to the voters on the November ballot.  The language of both petitions are here for you to read along with an explanation why your neighbors are working to update the city’s charter.

If you would like to sign the petition or circulate a petition please contact Carol Brzeczek at littletonviews@comcast.net.  We are happy to come to you to get your signature on one or both of the petitions.

 

The first petition addresses the reasons why city council can meet in secret.  Petition language follows.

Below is the wording for a proposed Charter Article and Section titled: 

ARTICLE III. LEGISLATIVE BODY

Sec. 27.  Council Meetings. 

All meetings of the city council or subcommittees of the council, meetings of all boards, commissions and other advisory bodies of the city and the subcommittees thereof shall comply with the requirements of the Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402 (2012) otherwise known as the Open Meetings Law.  An executive session may be called in accordance with Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-402 for the following reasons and no other.

  1. To discuss matters required to be kept confidential by federal and state laws; and
  2. To confer with an attorney regarding a legal action already filed in a court of law.  The case name and number shall be cited for the public record.  Any final settlement or agreement made shall be decided by a majority vote in a Regular meeting of the city council.

The entire executive session shall be tape or digitally recorded in its entirety.  The recording shall be maintained in the City Clerk’s office until those serving on the council at the time of the recorded executive session are no longer serving on council.

 

Why we are seeking to change the current use of  executive sessions:

  1. Open and transparent government is good government. This petition will force the City Council to do the public’s business in public.
  2. The people’s business needs to be done openly. Secret meetings, which involve dispensing money, breeds distrust.
  3. Boulder’s City Charter does not allow any executive (closed/secret) sessions. We can certainly expect that our city council can do the same.
  4. This petition requests a modification of the current Open Meetings Law…allowing the city council to hold executive sessions IF it is required by federal or state law AND to consult with an attorney on any legal matter that has been FILED in a court of law. Any settlements then are required to be decided in public, allowing the citizens to know what is happening and why.
  5. Any executive session will be required to be recorded in its entirety and the record kept for a longer period than currently required.
  6. Settlements generally require taxpayer money…therefore we believe the settlement and vote should be a matter of public record. Settlements determined in executive sessions in the past three years, for which Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request was needed are:

a.   Employee vs City – $7,120.01 with non disclosure clause

b.  Former City Attny vs City – $143,000 with non disclosure clause

c.   Employee vs City – $90,000 with non disclosure clause

d.   Employee Release – $5,000

e.   Former City Attny vs City – Six months salary

Citizens deserve to know how the council votes on all public matters before them.

 

The second petition concerns matters of rezoning…..petition language follows.

An amendment to section 37 of the City of Littleton Charter adding the following:

“Per C.R.S. 31-23-305 (2012) and C.R.S. 31-23-209 (2012) any zoning change shall not become effective except by the favorable vote of two-thirds of all the members of the City Council if: 

1. A protest is filed with the municipal clerk at least twenty-four hours prior to the City Council’s vote on the change and is signed by the owners of twenty percent or more of the area of land which is subject to the proposed change or twenty percent or more of the area of land extending a radius of one hundred feet from the land which is subject to the proposed change, disregarding intervening public streets and alleys; or 

2. The Planning Board has not recommended a favorable vote for the zoning change.

The provisions of this section relative to public hearings and official notice shall apply equally to all changes or amendments.

 

Why we are seeking to change the current practice of a simple majority vote on all zoning matters.

  1. State law currently requires all zoning changes to be approved by the proper authority with a 2/3-majority. A simple majority is all that is required for a zoning change in Littleton as a home rule city.
  2. This charter update is just closing a loop hole in the law.
  3. This means that a controversial zoning change can be approved with a simple majority vote.
  4. Property owners, in proximity of land subject to a rezone, contribute on many levels to the city. They are interested in protecting their property value, their quality of life and character of their neighborhood.  They are allowed 4 minutes in front of council to present a case for disapproval of a zoning change.  4 minutes!
  5.  As such, any zoning change should be subject to a higher standard than a simple majority.  Requiring a 2/3-majority vote provides that higher standard and gives citizen’s a slight advantage.
  6. Developers develop projects to make money for their investors and will go where they can make a significant return on their investment.  They have been able to convince elected officials that their projects are just what Littleton needs in spite of citizen protests. Nevada Place II being the most recent.
  7. City Council wants more sales tax revenue. Rezoning retail to high-rise, high density residential prevents the building of retail space.  Once land is rezoned and developed as residential there is no going back. Future sales tax revenue generation is lost forever.
  8. There are 7 proposed high density apartment dwellings coming to Littleton for a total of 2,207 to 2,282 new apartments in addition to the 5,000 to 6,000 already here.  A high density apartment complex could be coming to your neighborhood – we need a higher standard for the approval of changes that dramatically impact neighborhoods.
  9. The newly adopted Economic Plan recommends 7 new taxes on the citizens of Littleton. The seven suggested taxes are:  sales tax increase, building use tax increase, soda and candy tax, lodging tax, renter’s tax, head tax and internets sales tax.  Doesn’t it make better sense to develop retail space than to flip properties zoned commercial/retail to high density apartment buildings?

10. Proposed apartments for Littleton –

  1. Littleton Village (Marathon on the East side-approved)   900
  2. Littleton Village (Marathon on the West side)                    possibly more
  3. Villages at Belleview (Federal and Belleview area)         345
  4. Littleton Commons East (Approved)                                385
  5. Nevada Place II (Approved)                                              77
  6. Broadstone (Bemis and Littleton Blvd)                              250-350
  7. Meadows at Platte Valley (Mineral and Platte Canyon)   250
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