Technicality tripped up a petition drive that had more than enough signatures to bring the Haymeadow development to a vote of the people in Eagle.
That’s a shame.
We don’t say this because there’s something wrong with the Haymeadow plan. While not perfect, the development that will have 837 housing units on 660 acres when completed in a couple of decades or so is pretty darn good.
More than half of Haymeadow will be open space, for instance, and the residential development will fit nicely with Eagle Ranch.
The Town Board thought long and hard about the plan and approved a project that will help the town’s economy while mitigating traffic congestion in an area earmarked for such development.
The community is bound to grow, in a place zoned for growth, and the development plan is a lot better than most. Eagle can use the critical mass to support its old downtown Eagle Ranch business districts while retaining its historic charm.
We fully support the development and see that it will be a fine addition to the community.
The shame lies in short-circuiting an established checks-and-balance tool of the people on decisions of this magnitude on the community.
Clearly, though, many of the town’s voters are not sold on the wisdom of the project. This is why referendums exist.
The Town Board exists to represent the best interests of the town, certainly. It’s not supposed to have the last word if enough of the community wishes to bring a decision like this to a vote.
It’s a real shame that the organizers of the petition drive couldn’t be bothered to follow straightforward rules, however detailed. Talk about boneheaded.
Their failure had nothing to do with being out lawyered or taking on a Goliath or anything like that. They can look no further than their own sloppy effort for the judge’s obvious decision to disqualify more than enough otherwise valid petitions for a referendum.
But their baseline point remains valid: Enough of the Eagle community wishes to make this decision via an election that this is what should happen.
Lots of people in and out of government believe that giving the people a vote in land use decisions is folly and only Town Board members are qualified to make such complicated and nuanced decisions.
Frankly, leaving decisions of such magnitude to the politicians sounds like the greater folly.
Of course, such philosophizing is neither here nor there when in Eagle, the townsfolk have the right to ask for a referendum.
Some clumsy amateurs thoroughly screwed the process up with Haymeadow.
The Town Board can sigh in relief and move on to other matters.
But it would be the biggest shame of all if Eagle’s leaders took the easy path here. The will of enough constituents is for a referendum.
And that’s exactly what the Town Board ought to give them.