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The two petitions asking voters to create a special election to rezone two downtown Parker properties to open space failed to receive enough signatures for the items to receive a certificate of sufficiency by the town clerk, officials announced Oct. 22.
Each petition fell at least 1,700 valid signatures short of the mandated number. There will be no special election unless the group is able to make up the difference within 10 days, according to town officials.
"The Committee to Save PACE Center Parking and the Committee to Save Pine Curve 3.0 filed their Notice to Amend on Tuesday, Oct. 22 and may now begin circulating their supplementary petitions, which will be due on Friday, Nov. 1," Elise Penington, communications director for the town, wrote in an email to Colorado Community Media Oct. 22.
The petitions were created and circulated by the committee “Save PACE Parking and Pine Curve 3.0.” Contrary to the wording of each petition, some members of the group made it known they did not want to rezone the properties to open space, but rather were attempting to stall development of each property to have them developed in what they believe to be a more responsible fashion.
The two properties are zoned “Greater Downtown-Historic District,” a unique zoning to Parker, which allows for development of mixed-use commercial and some residential.
UDC Miller, a commercial real estate investment group, accepted a purchase and sale agreement with the town Aug. 5. Development plans have not been reviewed by the planning commission or town council yet and will require a public hearing before it is approved. PACE Lot 2 has not yet been sold.
The two petitions each needed 5,737 or more valid signatures from registered Parker voters, 15% of the total electorate of 38,242. The Pine Curve petition received 4,017 valid signatures. The PACE Lot 2 petition received 4,037 valid signatures.
The town clerk found 1,404 signatures were invalid for the Pine Curve petition, and 1,384 PACE Lot 2 signatures were invalid.
“Despite instructions clearly indicating signatures must match the signature on file with the elector’s registration, the vast majority of signatures did not match exactly,” reads the town clerk’s report of insufficiency. The report goes on to explain the office went through an "extensive confirmation process to attempt to validate each signature."
A signature can be deemed invalid if it is from a person who is not a registered voter in the Town of Parker or is not consistent with the county's voter registeration records, if the signature is illegible or if the address doesn't match up with the name. More than 1,100 signatures on each petition were from people not registered to vote in Parker, the report states.
“I question whether 20% (of submitted signatures) were invalid,” said Terry Dodd, one of the group's leaders, “because we were very particular about people being registered Parker voters.”
The town budgeted $125,000 in 2020 for a special election, which is still not impossible.
The group has until Nov. 1 to remedy the invalid signatures and gather an additional 300-plus signatures for each petition. Town staff will have five days after that to review the signatures again. If the petitions are still insufficient, the committee can file a request the petitions be reviewed by town council or appeal the ruling to district court.
“It's a daunting task to do in 10 days, but I think we can get it done,” Dodd said.
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