Some residents want vote on Peak 1 parcel
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
FRISCO ” A group of Frisco residents is proposing a new law that would require a citizen vote to approve development, but the measure could block the town’s plan for affordable housing on the Peak One Parcel.
Some current and former town council members immediately slammed the effort as a selfish move that conflicts with the community’s desire to address Frisco’s most urgent priority.
Calling itself Friends of Frisco Open Space, the organization submitted a formal request to town clerk Deborah Wohlmuth on Sept. 18, with the intent of starting a petition drive to bring the question to a vote.
“Citizen involvement is the best to assure open space and recreational land-use decisions are balanced and help maintain the quality of life that Frisco residents and visitors so enjoy,” the group said in a press release.
The group claims to be pro-open space, and that the measure would close existing “loopholes” in the town charter by requiring a citizen vote to approve leasing, selling or subdividing town-owned land.
Some council members reacted strongly after their initial review of the proposed initiative.
“It’s bogus,” said councilmember Bruce Fleet. “What they’re doing is a last-ditch effort to block the Peak One plans,” Fleet said. “But you know what? Citizens have a right to do this, and I respect their right,” he said of the planned petition drive.
“This is the last bastion of some people who feel disenfranchised,” said former councilmember Dan Fallon.
“These people want to maintain a multi-million dollar property for their own use … It doesn’t take into account the best interests of the town,” Fallon said. “I’ve never seen such selfish people.”
Fallon said the public process showed there was “massive, overwhelming support” for affordable housing on the Peak One parcel.
“We’re well within our rights to annex that property,” he said.
After extensive public involvement, the town is moving to finalize a housing plan for the parcel, just a few blocks off Main Street.
Annexing the property to the town is one of the next steps, and the language of the proposed ordinance specifically targets the Peak One parcel, along with the Home Depot parcel (now called the interstate parcel) as well the Frisco Peninsula Recreation Area.
Since none of those properties is actually formally zoned as open space, Mayor Bill Pelham questioned the group’s motives, at least in his early reaction to the proposed ordinance.
Right to vote?
“I was expecting this,” said Doug Malkan, who is working with the Frisco group on the petition process.
“People are going to try and pigeon-hole this, but it’s a total distortion,” said Malkan, who lives in a subdivision outside Breckenridge, where he owns and manages rental units.
Malkan said Frisco has a history of “ram-rodding” unwanted development approvals, thereby forcing citizens into a reactive mode. “All they’re asking for is the right to vote,” Malkan said.
For Malkan, it may be a question of citizen involvement, but at least one member of the new group acknowledged that the Peak One housing plan helped trigger the citizen initiative.
“The Peak One parcel brought this to light,” said Don Cacace. “I guess the way I see it is, there are just a couple of pieces of town-owned land left. We’re landlocked, down to our final pieces,” Cacace said. “We’ve had a strong tradition of citizens voting on large development approvals,” he said. The proposed law would codify that tradition, he added.
Some town council members said they objected to the group’s tactic of trying to play affordable housing and open space against each other. Both are important community values, said Larry Sawyer.
“I’m disappointed that these people are objecting to professional people from the hospital and the educational community moving into their neighborhood,” Sawyer said.
“As a council, we’re hearing that affordable housing is the No. 1 issue. It’s the single most important thing for the future of Frisco. “They don’t want this in their backyard,” Fleet said. “But I think we were listening carefully to what the majority wants.”
“If they win, then where do we go?” Fleet concluded.
Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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