The opening salvo in the court fray over a Lakewood ballot initiative aimed at curtailing city growth turned into a six-hour marathon hearing late last week.
The Lakewood Sentinel’s Clarke Reader detailed the second day of administrative hearings which dragged on over half a dozen hours on Thursday and took testimony from 44 “petitioners, circulators and notaries, about the process leading to getting enough signatures to put the initiative before city council or on the ballot in November.”
The court battle started after citizens group Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships (LNP) canvassed the city, gathering petition signatures in support of a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth. The group’s proposal would also establish a permit system, requiring City Council approval for all projects of 40 units or more while lifting permit requirements for redevelopment of existing units in “blighted or distressed areas.”
The group submitted the required number of petition signatures to the city, and the City Council was set to consider pushing the initiative to the ballot but had to delay action due to a legal challenge.
That formal protest was from Lakewood resident and Vice Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party Steve Dorman, contending the ballot initiative lacks an “adequate description.”
On Thursday, counsel for both sides — Dennis Polk for Dorman and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler for LNP board members — gave arguments centered on the validity of petition signatures, Reader reported. Polk argued that signatures were not submitted in accordance with city election law.
His point was that the bulk of the circulators’ affidavits were not signed and submitted under oath. Since the affidavits did not include language stating the circulators took an oath when they turned in the signatures, those petitions and signatures are not valid.
Countering that argument, Gessler argued that the act of signing was an affirmation of the validity of signatures, and that not making customers swear an official oath is common practice for notaries.