Citing state law, Eagle denies petition for a referendum on large housing project
Reserve at Hockett Gulch opponents receive final denial
EAGLE — To put a referendum before voters, state law says your petition must be approved before gathering signatures.
An Eagle man did it the other way around while trying to put a referendum before voters for the 500-unit Reserve at Hockett Gulch. The town said it had no choice but to deny Patrick Tvarkunas’ fifth petition attempt, which he submitted late Monday afternoon.
The town issued its ruling late Thursday. With last Monday’s final deadline come and gone, state law says the petition cannot be resubmitted.
“I feel I have done everything in my abilities to pursue something that I truly believe in. At the risk of sounding corny, I believe that the will of the people is worth fighting for,” Tvarkunas said in an email.
No choice but to deny
The town says it followed state law all five times, that it had no choice but to deny all five petition attempts, and that it provided detailed feedback about how to address deficiencies in each of the previous petitions.
In rejecting the petitions, the town cited issues outlined under state law such as extraneous information, typographical errors, failing to provide complete instructions, and summaries at the petition’s beginning and end that did not match.
“The town clerk has no discretion,” Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter said in a statement. “Based on the applicable statutes, the town clerk had no choice but to reject the signed petitions presented on Monday, October 21, because the petitions that were circulated for signature were never approved by the town.”
The town says it based its decisions on a “careful legal review.”
“Accepting a petition with deficiencies was not an option. Laws regarding petitions are in place to preserve due process for all parties involved,” Reitter’s statement said.
Tvarkunas and other petition circulators needed 237 signatures to let Eagle voters decide whether Hockett Gulch should be built. They submitted 304 Monday.
18 months in the process
Hockett Gulch spent 18 months in the town’s approval process, in front of both Eagle’s planning and zoning commission, and the town’s board of trustees. Information was available before, during and after those hearings, Reitter said.
The town board voted last month to annex the 30-acre property into the town’s western boundary, but that does not eliminate opportunities to voice opinions about it.
“As this project and others continue through the development process, the public is encouraged to attend hearings and participate,” Reitter said.
Tvarkunas is a small business owner, No Bull Entertainment. He and his wife provide mechanical bulls, photo booths and bounce houses for special events. This was his first shot at anything like political activism.
He said Monday he understands the need for housing, but the Reserve at Hockett Gulch is out of character for Eagle.
“All kinds of people thanked me for doing this,” Tvarkunas said Monday after he submitted his fifth petition. “Until I started knocking on doors I did not realize the contention that exists around this.”
Tvarkunas was not available for comment for this story.
To keep up with development proposals, go to http://www.townofeagle.org.
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