Frisco citizens to vote on peninsula golf
FRISCO – Once again, the golf issue is returning to Frisco voters.
Frisco elected officials agreed Tuesday to let citizens vote on the issue Nov. 5, after Frisco Town Clerk Deb Helton announced the Save the Peninsula Coalition had met the requirements to see its initiative on the ballot.
Golf has been a contentious issue among Frisco citizens, and opponents of a golf course won narrowly in 1993 by only 47 votes. This year’s vote could support that past victory, or it might reverse it.
Town officials have argued public sentiment may have changed in the past 10 years – or that it might in the next 20 or 30. Earlier this year, council members decided to include a golf course as one of the recreational amenities in their land-use planning for the town-owned portion of the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area. They said they did not want to preclude future generations from having the option to build a golf course.
Coalition volunteers began collecting signatures earlier this summer, after the town council decided against putting the golf issue on April’s ballot. If approved, their initiative will prevent the planning, design, development or construction of a golf course on the peninsula.
The group needed 422 valid signatures for its initiative to be included on November’s ballot. About 600 of the 900 petition signatures submitted to to the town earlier this month were valid, Helton said.
Council members then had two options: pass the ordinance without putting it on the ballot, or let voters decide. Council agreed to the latter at its meeting Tuesday.
More than 20 coalition volunteers and Frisco citizens attended the regular meeting and seemed pleased with council’s decision, but their elation was perhaps muted by a clarification of the town charter.
Town manager Alan Briley said town staff, including the town’s legal counsel, have disagreed on the interpretation of town charter regarding ordinances initiated by the people.
Though town officials have said an ordinance initiated by the people (such as the Save the Peninsula initiative) could be overturned by a future council 12 or more months after the ordinance is passed, some said they believed if the initiative was decided by a vote of the people, it could not be overturned without another vote.
Town officials stressed Tuesday the ordinance could be overturned whether it was passed by council members or decided by a vote of the citizens.
“I’m really happy that the council decided to let it go to a vote of the people,” said coalition volunteer Mark Campione. “But I’m very disappointed to find out that in a year the decision could be overturned – and without a vote of the people, just by council.”
“I’m pleased that they decided to put it on the ballot,” said another volunteer and Frisco resident Marie Roberts. “If it gets a good, solid vote, I don’t think they would go ahead and overturn it.”
Coalition leader Doug Malkan was less enthusiastic.
“If any thanks goes out for placing (the initiative) on the ballot, the thanks should go to the petitioners,” he said. “It’s still extremely important people go to the polls and vote. But, it’s a terrible part of the Frisco town charter that the town council can overturn a vote of the people after a one-year period.”
Malkan said he is confident opponents of a golf course will outnumber supporters and approve the November ballot question.
Though the law allows council to overturn the ordinance, if voters approve it in November, Frisco Mayor Bob Moscatelli said, “We have no plans to undo any ordinances in one year.”
Still, Frisco resident Jon Kreamelmeyer said he feels uneasy about it.
“It was somewhat disheartening to find out that a vote of the people really only means one year,” he said. “My understanding is that council is going to continue forward and pass the (recreation) plan before the vote on the golf course and, obviously, the golf course is a component of that. In my mind, it shows arrogance and disregard for public sentiment.”
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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