Those working to force every individual urban-renewal project in Littleton to a vote of the people presented a tall stack of signatures to Littleton City Council prior to council's votes approving the city's first two enterprise zones.
“There isn't one of us that wanted to do this,” Frank Atwood told council as he added a handful of petitions to the pile. “The task was long, and it felt like a bridge too far.”
But, added Paul Bingham, members of his grassroots activist group, Citizens for Rational Development, didn't think the resolution council passed preventing them from using eminent domain in the pursuit of urban renewal had enough teeth.
“Now we want that same protection in our charter so that once you are no longer seated, the citizens are still protected,” said Bingham.
The group turned in what they say are more than 4,000 signatures, hundreds more than the 3,152 required to get their language in front of Littleton voters. The city clerk's office has until Nov. 20 to certify them.
“As soon as we know if there are enough verifiable signatures, they will be presented to city council,” said City Clerk Wendy Heffner. “The clerk's office is working diligently to verify signatures.”
Councilmember Bruce Stahlman said if people wanted to vote on every project, “more power to them.” But he hoped that each voter would take the time to become as familiar with urban renewal as council has over the last several years, if they intend to take back the power they now have vested in their elected officials.
“They have that voice already on council,” he said.
“They didn't elect us to sit up here and twiddle our thumbs while the Littleton we all love erodes away from time and neglect.”
Councilmember Randy Stein got a lot of support from some CRD-affiliated folks during his campaign, but he has said he feels they really missed the boat this time.
“There's been a level of divisiveness created around this particular topic that saddens me,” he said on Aug. 19, noting that it costs the city $40,000 to $60,000 to hold a special election.
“It will kill urban-renewal efforts in Littleton, and this is its intention,” agreed Councilmember Debbie Brinkman.
During the Nov. 4 meeting, Stahlman compared CRD's efforts to the state statute that made the use of condemnation in urban renewal projects extremely difficult.
“People can be opposed to something and fight it, and if they can't win that fight, then they take it and gut it,” he said.