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Littleton council grapples with possible city charter changes

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Rezoning process could change

By Ramsey Scott

The Littleton City Council has finalized the list of 14 people that will comb through the city’s 54-year-old charter and make recommendations for possible changes. 

The charter review committee will begin meeting in September and focus on parts of the charter that specify when the council could enter into executive session; how the city makes purchases; the process for seeking bids; posting requirements and procedures; along with cleaning up sections of the charter that are no longer relevant. 

The committee will make recommendations for any changes by the end of April 2014. The council will then present the changes to the voters during the city’s next election cycle.

Each council member was allowed to nominate two people to the committee:

Mayor Brinkman: Tom Wootten and Stew Meagher

Mayor Pro Tem Stahlman: Karen Milspaugh and Diane Leiker

Council member Beckman: Kim Field and Kevin Kostoff

Council member Cernanec: Sally Parsons and Brian Vogt

Council member Cole: Steve Brainard and Don Schiff

Council member Taylor: Norm Brown and Susan Thornton

Council member Valdes: Dan Dillon and Bill Long

Residents could vote on two separate proposals this year, one by two City Council members and another by a group of private citizens, to change the city’s charter in regard to how property gets rezoned.

The group of citizens, led by Frank Atwood, Mary Bradford, Betty Harris, Jose Trujillo and Carol Breczek, has been collecting signatures to get a proposal on this year’s ballot that would create more stringent requirements to get property rezoned. 

The group’s proposal would require a two-thirds vote of City Council members if 20 percent of property owners within 100 feet of the property, or 20 percent of property owners in an area up for rezoning, filed a protest 24 hours before the rezoning hearing. It would also trigger a two-thirds-vote requirement if the city’s Planning Board voted against the rezoning.

Currently the council approves rezoning changes by a majority vote. Colorado law says rezoning changes need to be approved by a two-thirds majority vote, but since Littleton is a home-rule city, it is allowed to set its own standard for rezoning. 

A counterproposal being pushed by council members Jim Taylor and Bruce Stahlman seeks to ease some of the restrictions being sought by the citizens’ group. Their proposal would require the same two-thirds vote if a minimum of  51 percent of the property owners within 500 feet of the property, or 51 percent of property owners in an area up for rezoning, filed a protest 24 hours before the rezoning hearing. 

That proposal would also add a stipulation that two-thirds of the Planning Board must have voted against the change for the two-thirds-majority requirement to kick in. 

The council will vote this week to decide if Taylor’s and Stahlman’s proposal will be on the ballot in November.

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.