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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 9, 20173min11280

Dogged by legal challenges, an initiative geared toward curbing growth in Lakewood will not appear on the fall ballot after all.

Just over two weeks ago, it appeared voters would weigh in on the initiative — which would establish a 1 percent annual cap on residential growth and require City Council approval for all projects of 40 units or more — via the November ballot. Mid-September, Lakewood City Clerk Margy Greer dismissed legal challenges to the initiative brought forth by Lakewood resident and Jefferson County Republican Party Vice Chairman Steve Dorman.

But last week, Dorman filed a legal dispute to Greer’s ruling in Jefferson County District Court, further delaying the initiative from moving to the ballot, the Lakewood Sentinel reports.

Perhaps a metaphor for metro Denver’s struggle with ubiquitous growth, the fray over the initiative has proved enduring.

Frustrated by delays, the authors of the initiative, the Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships (LNP), said the city is being stifled by big-money developers, while Dorman labeled the measure ill-advised, the Sentinel reports:

“The question will not be on the ballot as the city cannot proceed with this ill-advised measure,” Dorman said. “The proponents have 21 days to respond, after which time an initial hearing will be held, which would most likely set a trial date several months out.”

In response, Cathy Kentner, a board member of Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships, the group that organized the initiative, said the City could file a response and have the appeal thrown out expeditiously.

“For years the community voice in Lakewood has been stifled by developers with big money. This summer people banded together and turned in an initiative which would restore neighborhood voice to large development projects,” said Kentner, who is co-petitioner with Anita Springsteen and Heather Wenger. “Big money has sued the City Clerk just to keep Lakewood from voting on this measure in November.”

Over the summer, the growth initiative’s organizers submitted the required number of petition signatures to push the issue to the ballot, or have the City Council enact it through ordinance, however Lakewood can’t vote on the initiative since it has been legally challenged.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 11, 20173min5280

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.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 6, 20173min1340

The fate of a legal challenge to a citizen-driven initiative focused on curtailing growth in Lakewood could become clearer as the formal objection is slated to be heard in municipal court this month.

Lakewood resident and Vice Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party Steve Dorman filed a formal complaint with the city last month contending the ballot question lacks an “adequate description.” Dorman argued in part proponents should drop the “poorly-crafted” measure and work with the city to responsibly manage growth; binding future city councils would be unconstitutional, and that the proposal would violate an owner’s vested rights in property.

As the Lakewood Sentinel reported late last month, a Sept. 31 hearing is scheduled in Lakewood Municipal Court for Dorman’s complaint.

Citizens group Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships (LNP) organized the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, which if instituted would place a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth. The 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 said it’s striving to preserve “the unique environment and quality of life, maintain property values and avoid increases in crime and urban decay associated with unmanaged growth,” among other objectives.

LNP had submitted enough petition signatures to the city and the Lakewood City Council was set to consider whether to place it on the November ballot or enact it through ordinance Aug. 28, but was forced to delay action due to the formal protest. The council would most likely send the issue to voters should it move forward, but the formal challenge creates a potential timing problem for the city.

Critics, including the Lakewood United for Responsible Growth, say the growth-limiting measure would further exacerbate the struggle many families have finding affordable housing.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJuly 24, 20175min1672

As greater Denver metro natives and cities struggle to keep up with ubiquitous development and the seemingly fading character of some historic neighborhoods, one community is looking to curtail growth.

A group of Lakewood residents has canvassed the city’s neighborhoods, gathering signatures to petition the city to place a cap on new development while making it easier to redevelop “blighted” areas.

The Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships (LNP) organized the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, which according to its website strives to preserve “the unique environment and quality of life, maintain property values and avoid increases in crime and urban decay associated with unmanaged growth,” among others objectives.

The Denver Channel’s Connor Wist reported last week the group had collected about 4,000 of the 5,200 petition signatures needed to get the proposal on the November ballot. If the signature threshold is met, the initiative also could be enacted through ordinance by the Lakewood City Council in lieu of a ballot question in November.

In an early June press release, the group said its initiative would place a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth. The 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 said it seeks to maintain the character of local neighborhoods through the initiative:

Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships organized the proposal to place a density-limiting initiative on the November ballot in order to continue the city’s suburban appeal, said LNP Board member Cathy Kentner.

“We formed LNP in 2014 to help Lakewood neighbors and neighborhoods maneuver the red tape and, at times, difficulty involved in dealing with City Hall’s procedures,” Kentner said. “We are responding to calls from community members city-wide to remedy the unaddressed consequences of growth in the past dozen or more years.”

Gathering enough signatures might not be the group’s only challenge, however. LNP might have to contend with a social media campaign and grassroots effort promised by the Colorado chapter of behemoth advocacy group Americans for Prosperity on the issue of growth control in the city.

A recent Lakewood City Council proposal looking at a six-month moratorium on new multi-family housing developments in the city drew the conservative, pro free-market eye of AFP-Colorado.

Though the proposal is unlikely to garner majority backing from the City Council, in a press release last week AFP-Colorado labeled the proposal “government intrusion in the free market system.”

“City council is not elected to abuse their power by stopping what the market demands in terms of housing. When the long arm of government reaches in to hinder this process, it artificially forces the cost of rents to go up.”