Blue River votes on Ruby Place skirt democratic process (letter)
More back and forth about Blue River
I read Rich Holcroft’s article in the Summit Daily (March 25) about the Ruby Placer development, and now I understand why the town of Blue River has attempted to sidestep the democratic process clearly outlined in the Colorado municipal statutes, which allow the petition and referendum process on enacted ordinances. I must be one of those residents from another town (unincorporated Summit County 300 feet from the project), who is trying to start a referendum petition, and who claims there has been no public process. This is patently false. I have attended four of the five public hearings on the matter since last year, and am shameful to have missed the fourth meeting. The referendum process is not new. Blue River rejected three petitions for a referendum vote on the matter last year, which is anything but recent. The temporary and permanent injunctions granted by Judge Thompson against the town’s annexation of the property covered the rejection of the petitions, Public Case # 14CV030217. It is Blue River that has made a farce of the public process by declaring an emergency ordinance after three meetings last year, and again after two meetings this year. The developer’s attorney revealed at the meeting on March 17 that the town has employed emergency ordinances often, and gave several examples. Obviously, they have learned from Mr. Holcroft’s tenure as a board member and mayor pro tem from 2006 to April 2014 that such civil liberties detailed in the law should be ignored and suppressed.
Among the folks I have spoken to who dislike the project, there is agreement that progress is necessary in any community. However, irresponsible, maximum-density development is not the type of development needed in the Upper Blue River Valley, and this is the issue that has folks upset, and determined to bring a valid petition to vote. Sixty-eight units (excluding the 10,000-square-foot “McMansion” the developer is building for himself on 7 of the 48 acres, and the two “caretaker homes”), is too much density for the area. It is irresponsible and caters to the developer at the expense of nearby citizens. A density reduction of 50 percent would still allow 11 more homes than current Summit County zoning. I proposed at the town meeting on March 17 that the town continue the process of approving the zoning for a review of density, but the town enacted an emergency ordinance instead.
Last year, concerned Blue River citizens against the high density project, sued the town of Blue River and won a permanent injunction because the town tried to sidestep the residents’ right to a referendum vote on the issue by adopting the annexation and zoning as an emergency ordinance. Emergency ordinances don’t allow the residents to vote, because presumably there is an emergency to resolve things associated with floods and fires. Authoritarian abuse of this kind is called railroading by most people, and shows no regard for citizens’ rights, democracy and the municipal statutes of Colorado. In addition, by allowing R-6 zoning and not requiring the use of transferable development rights for the number of units planned, as recommended by Summit County and the town of Breckenridge, the town sidesteps another important and acknowledged process for responsible development. The town of Blue River is making a pariah of itself and is operating without regard to many citizens’ concerns for the Upper Blue River Valley and against the wishes of the county and Breckenridge. They want to railroad the deal through and have claimed an emergency exists where none exists at all. In 2014 there were three public meetings before the town made a mockery of the public process by adopting the emergency ordinance. As a person directly affected by the proximity of the development to my home and the indisputable negatives associated with high density development, I remain steadfastly against the size of the project and cannot understand why there has been no revision to the size and density after all the town meetings and legal proceedings.
You may ask why no changes to the plan? It’s because the mayor and the developer know each other well and share a common disrespect for those who oppose them, due process, and don’t really care about those of us impacted by the project. After all, it’s not next door to them and what we need is progress, even if it is irresponsible. We will suffer from the decline in the water table, overuse of trails and public lands, lighted streets and homes, light trespass, etc. Please, Blue River Residents, keep the Upper Blue River Valley free from high density development, and if given the chance, sign the petition to bring about a vote, and then vote no on high density in the Upper Blue.
Unincorporated Summit County
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