Activists want their ideas put to a vote
Look for Citizens for Rational Development to be pounding the pavement in the coming weeks, as group members try to petition two ordinances onto the November ballot.
CRD is a group of Littleton residents who have banded together to fight high-density projects, particularly around the two light-rail stations, and are calling on city council to implement strategic plans to guide development.
Carol Brzeczek announced the move during the May 7 Littleton City Council meeting, which lasted nearly four hours. About 30 people spoke during public comment, many urging a moratorium on rezoning.
Along those lines, the first proposed ordinance would require the seven-member council to pass rezoning requests with a supermajority of five councilors, as required by state law. Littleton’s home-rule charter supersedes state law on most things, and it allows those changes to pass with a simple majority.
“We believe that the change is necessary because any rezone of a property impacts those nearby, and the original zoning is relied upon by those people,” said Brzeczek, who is active with both the Sunshine Boys local activist group and CRD. “When that promise is to be broken, we believe that decision should fall to a higher standard than just the simple majority.”
Recent votes on Littleton Commons apartments and Breckenridge Brewery breezed through unanimously. However, notes Brzeczek, the 2007 Walmart vote and the Nevada Place decision earlier this year would not have been approved under her proposal.
“We believe this puts the advantage of any rezoning on the side of the citizens, and not developers,” she said.
Councilor Peggy Cole said she would be interested in considering such an ordinance, but Councilor Jim Taylor flatly disagreed.
“We adopted a home-rule charter to get away from the state, and frankly, I don’t even want to see an ordinance come before us,” he said.
CRD’s second proposal is to limit council’s use of executive sessions.
“We believe that there should be very few reasons for our elected representatives to be discussing the public’s business behind closed doors,” said Brzeczek. “Our councils, past and present, behind closed doors make severance agreements and other arrangements that cost the taxpayers plenty and would remain unknown unless the citizens are smart enough to ask for the agreements through a Colorado Open Records Act request. We believe that the citizens of Littleton deserve to know just how every dollar of our tax money is spent and which council member supports that spending.”
The change would allow council to meet in executive session to discuss only matters that are required to be confidential by state and federal law and ongoing lawsuits. It would prohibit them from turning off the recording when meeting with their attorney, and require them to keep the tape until all the councilors are no longer on council.
“All of the changes will make our Littleton government more open, transparent and accountable,” Brzeczek said.
Sponsoring the ordinances along with Brzeczek are four others active with CRD: Frank Atwood, Betty Harris, Jose Trujillo and Mary Bradford.
The group will have 90 days to gather nearly 1,600 signatures from those who support the effort to put the ordinances to a vote of the people. They’re due at the city clerk’s office on Aug. 7.