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EPURA Initiated Ordinance Petition Rejected

On January 7, 2009, the Town of Estes Park received an initiated ordinance petition to abolish the Estes Park Urban Renewal Authority (EPURA). The petition was filed by attorney Robert T. Hoban on behalf of his clients, Bill Van Horn and Larry Pesses.

Colorado State Statutes (31-25-115) state “The governing body of a municipality may by ordinance provide for the abolishment of an urban renewal authority.”

As required by state statute, Mr. Van Horn and Mr. Pesses submitted this initiated ordinance petition to receive the required approval prior to collecting the necessary signatures. If a fully signed petition is filed, the Town Board must either approve the ordinance abolishing EPURA or require the Town to hold an election to allow the electorate to decide if EPURA shall be abolished.  The Town

Clerk had 5 business days from the receipt of the initiated ordinance petition to approve or reject the petition prior to allowing the petitioners to collecting signatures. The Town Clerk is required to reject a petition or section of a petition on the grounds that it does not proposed municipal legislation pursuant to Section 1(9) of Article V of the State Constitution.

After consulting with the Town’s attorney, the Town Clerk rejected the initiative petition in its entirety because:

1.The abolishment of an Urban Renewal Authority is governed by Section 31-25-115 (2) C.R.S.  The proposed Initiated Ordinance is not proper municipal legislation because the proposed ordinance conflicts with a law of general application.  The State has pre-empted the field concerning the abolishment of Urban Renewal Authorities. The Board of Trustees of the Town does not have the lawful authority to delegate its discretion and judgment regarding the abolishment of EPURA due to the fact that Section 31-25-115 (2) C.R.S. requires that “adequate arrangements have been made for payment of any outstanding indebtedness and other obligations of the Authority” prior to the enactment of an Ordinance abolishing EPURA. Compliance with the State Statute requires the Town Board to exercise its discretion and judgment which cannot be lawfully delegated to the electors of the Town of Estes Park. A vote on the proposed Ordinance pursuant to the Revised Initiated Ordinance Petition does not take into account the requirement of the State Statute for the adequate arrangements for payment of any outstanding indebtedness and other obligations of EPURA.

2.Section 31-25-115 (2) C.R.S. requires that a date be set forth in the ordinance to abolish EPURA “which date shall not be less than six months from the effective date of the ordinance.” The Revised Petition does not contain any date.

3.The proposed Ballot Initiative Ordinance addresses multiple subjects.  The proposed Initiated Ordinance violates the single subject rule because it contains a hidden requirement that a favorable vote for abolishing EPURA will make the Town liable for any outstanding indebtedness and other obligations of EPURA without making adequate arrangements for any indebtedness and other obligations.

This is the second time the Town has rejected an initiated petition regarding EPURA submitted by Mr. Van Horn and Mr. Pesses. The Town believes neither petition was proper municipal legislation subject to the initiative process.

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