Petition passes, special Silverthorne vote to be set
May 21, 2012
The battle over Silverthorne’s Blue River Trail continues with a citizen’s petition resulting in a special election concerning the use of the town’s eminent domain authority. Silverthorne Town Council members plan to encourage voters to vote no on the proposal.
The Silverthorne town clerk notified petitioners, of Silverthorne Voters Opposed to Eminent Domain (VOTED), that enough valid signatures appeared on the document to warrant a special election. The effort needed 251 valid signatures, and the clerk validated 297 of 346 submitted.
The special election date and ballot title will be set at Wednesday’s town council meeting, slated for 6 p.m. at Silverthorne Town Hall.
Also on the agenda is the approval of a resolution urging voters to vote no on the ballot question. It will go to a vote Wednesday before becoming official.
Silverthorne’s town charter, enacted by voters in 1995, currently provides the town with the ability to use eminent domain for municipal purposes.
It states, “The town shall have the right of eminent domain for all municipal purposes whatever within or without the limits of the town.”
There is no definition of “municipal purpose” in the charter, petitioners say, adding that the current authority is “too broad and limitless.”
The petition calls for a change to that language. Voters will decide in the special election if they want to amend the town charter to put limits on the eminent domain authority.
On Nov. 30, the Silverthorne Town Council voted unanimously to use its power of eminent domain to pursue construction, on private property, of the latest segment of the Blue River Trail, which has been under litigation for more than a year.
Silverthorne VOTED members include Charlie and Ginny Crowley, Ron and Yvonne Lomas and Laura Lyddy – all of whom were plaintiffs in the Blue River Trail lawsuit, which concluded with a late-February ruling in favor of the plaintiffs.
But the petition committee members say the charter amendment is separate from the litigation.
They say it’s a chance for Silverthorne voters to more clearly define when municipal leaders have the right to use eminent domain. The charter amendment would require a popular vote if town leaders want to exercise eminent domain in:
> Acquiring open space,
> Acquiring existing recreational facilities or expanding fixtures or facilities attached to an existing recreational facility,
> Condemning private property with the intention of eventually giving it to a different private entity, and
> Acquiring private property to build certain recreational facilities.