Pros and cons of Frisco’s land-use measure debated
April 2, 2009
FRISCO ” Depending who you ask, Frisco’s mail-in ballot initiative on land-use is either a back-door, smoke-and-mirrors approach to blocking any development on the town-owned Peak One parcel, or a fundamental constitutional exercise in citizen rights.
The two factions facing off on the ballot initiative squared off Wednesday evening in Frisco during a public forum. About 60 people turned out to hear panelists Don Cacace, Bob Bloch and Rob Murphy discuss the pros and cons of the measure.
As written, the change to the town charter would require a citizen vote before selling, leasing, donating or subdividing any town-owned parcel larger than 5 acres. Mail-in ballots are due back April 28.
If the measure passes, a proposal for affordable housing on the Peak One parcel would require another citizen vote for approval.
The Friends of Frisco Open Space brought the measure to a vote by collecting several hundred signatures, and spokesman Don Cacace said that effort reflected “broad-based support for what his group is now calling a right-to-vote initiative.
“Frisco’s character is at stake,” Cacace said, referring to development pressure on the town’s dwindling stock of land.
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Building affordable housing on the Peak One parcel is the best way to maintain that character by providing homes for residents who provide critical services, said Rob Murphy, of the pro-housing Families for Frisco group. Passage of the initiative would discourage developers from proposing affordable-housing projects, Murphy said.
“I’ve always supported the right to vote and I always will,” Bloch said. But the group supporting the ballot measure has “hijacked” that principle and used it to cloak their own narrow self-interests, Bloch asserted.
Cacace claimed the measure is necessary because Frisco’s government has repeatedly shown that it’s “out of sync with the people on development issues.”
Cacace went on to list the recent history of land-use issues that were decided via referendum. His group has claimed that the town’s current law leaves a loophole that enables the government to bypass the popular will when making important land-use decisions on large town-owned parcels. The ballot measure is aimed at closing that loophole, he said.
Bloch said it’s not fair to paint the current council using that same brush. He said six new council members have been elected since the battle over a proposed Home Depot development, some of them directly as a result of their position on that issue.
“It is not correct to say that council is ignoring or not responding,” Bloch said.
Cacace took issue with the portrayal of his group as only wanting to block the Peak One project.
“To take away your right to vote because of your feelings on a particular project is wrong,” Cacace said. “I think they’re asking you to enter a devil’s bargain ” to give up the right to vote to get a particular thing. If Peak One has such overwhelming support, why be afraid of a vote? Frisco’s citizens will get it right,” he said.