Eagle man’s petition: Let voters decide on approved 500-unit Hockett Gulch project | VailDaily.com

Eagle man’s petition: Let voters decide on approved 500-unit Hockett Gulch project

Patrick Tvarkunas says he collected 304 signatures on a petition calling for a referendum

Patrick Tvarkunas is leading an effort to put Eagle's 500-unit Hockett Gulch project to a public vote.
Randy Wyrick | randy@vaildaily.com

EAGLE — Voters should decide the fate of the largest housing real estate project in a decade, an Eagle man says.

Patrick Tvarkunas needed 237 signatures on a petition to let Eagle voters decide whether The Reserve at Hockett Gulch — a 500-unit workforce housing project — should be built. He and others submitted 304.

However, whether the signatures were submitted in time remains to be determined.

“We knocked on hundreds of doors and had overwhelming support,” Tvarkunas said. “The vast majority of citizens are in favor of having the ability to vote on this controversial development.”

That’s the law

Colorado law requires that if you’re going to submit a petition, you need to get the petition correct and then collect your signatures. The petition Tvarkunas submitted Monday was his fifth try.

“The town reviews citizen-led petitions in accordance with local and state laws,” Eagle Town Manager Brandy Reitter said in an email. “Any petition that is circulated by a petitioner must first be approved by the town in accordance with applicable laws, prior to collecting signatures from the registered electorate of the Town of Eagle.”

Under state law, CRS 31-11-106, the town completes its legal review of a petition and issues a written determination no later than five business days from submission. The town’s final five-day deadline expired at close-of-business Monday. Tvarkunas beat that deadline by 15 minutes.

“We weren’t out there at the last minute because of procrastination,” Tvarkunas said.

The town rejected the petition four times, citing issues outlined under state law — things like extraneous information, typographical errors, failing to provide complete instructions and summaries at the petition’s beginning and end that do not match.

“I feel strongly about democracy and the power of the people,” Tvarkunas said. “Myself and the other circulators who were also out this past weekend have persevered to try and let people have a vote on this, despite multiple roadblocks not of our own creation.”

Reitter said the town is following the law.

“The town followed all the procedures as outlined in CRS 31-11-106 in the review of this petition,” Reitter said.

The Town Board on Sept. 10 approved the Reserve at Hockett Gulch on 4-1 vote with two board members absent. The approval covers annexing the 30 acres on which the 500 units will be built and the planned unit development — the first draft of the overall project design plan.

Eagle’s town board approved The Reserve at Hockett Gulch, a 500-unit workforce housing project. The project will include a pool and recreation facility.
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The project has been in Eagle’s approval pipeline for a year and a half.

Walking Eagle’s neighborhoods

Tvarkunas said he understands his efforts might be for naught but that didn’t deter him.

He spent Saturday from noon to dusk walking the town and collecting signatures. Sunday he walked from 10 a.m. to dark, and Monday noon to 3 p.m., early-ish so he could submit his petition by close of business, which he did. It still may be too late, but Tvarkunas felt he had to try.

“I think that the town of Eagle citizens should have the ability to exercise their constitutional right to referendum and have a vote on this large and controversial project that will impact our town forever.”

Disagree, but not disagreeable

If nothing else, Tvarkunas met lots of new friends. People were almost unfailingly nice, he said, inviting him into their homes and wishing him good luck, whether or not they disagreed with him.

Lots of people are on his side, he said.

“All kinds of people thanked me for doing this,” Tvarkunas said. “Until I started knocking on doors, I did not realize the contention that exists around this.”

Tvarkunas is a small business owner. His company, No Bull Entertainment, brings mechanical bulls and bounce houses to events. He said he understands that putting the brakes on Hockett Gulch might not be in his own best business interests.

“I understand the need for housing, but it’s out of character for the town,” he said.

It’s also out of most renters’ price range, he said. One-bedroom rents are projected to cost $1,450 a month or $17,400 a year.

“I love this town. We have something special in Eagle. I have nothing to gain from this except to help move this town in a better direction,” Tvarkunas said.