Nearly 500 signatures were thrown out, but there were still more than the 1,133 signatures needed to force a vote.
Update: Council will discuss the Brown Ranch Annexation petition during City Attorney Dan Foote's Report on Tuesday, Dec. 5, according to City Council President Gail Garey. The City Attorney's report is one of City Council's final agenda items.
Steamboat Springs City Clerk Julie Franklin has certified more than 1,500 signatures submitted by the Let Steamboat Vote campaign, well above the 1,133-signature threshold needed to force the question of Brown Ranch annexation to a city-wide vote.
Petitioners submitted more than 1,900 signatures to the city ahead of a Nov. 17 deadline, but just under 500 signatures were tossed out for several reasons. Some signers were not registered to vote, didn’t live in the city limits, or omitted some key information.
The successful petition effort means Steamboat Springs City Council will now hold a hearing to decide how to proceed. Council could just decide to repeal annexation and drop the issue, but considering the support on council for Brown Ranch, that possibility seems out of the question. Instead, council will schedule a date for a special election where voters will decide on annexation.
Steamboat’s Charter requires an election to be held between 30 and 90 days after council’s determination that the petition is sufficient, which lines up the vote for sometime in March or April.
While there is a process to challenge the petition, that doesn’t appear likely. Following the city’s announcement on Tuesday that the petition is sufficient, Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Director Jason Peasley put out a statement saying they welcome the election.
“We welcome the upcoming vote on Brown Ranch annexation and look forward to the City Council’s decision on when to schedule the vote,” Peasley said. “For the last 40 years the demand for housing affordable to the local workforce has greatly outpaced the supply. And the magnitude continues to explode. The gap will continue to grow until we make a significant change.”
After first reading of the annexation ordinance, Council had decided to refer the question to voters and schedule an election for sometime in June. While the YVHA Board agreed to support council’s decision if they referred Brown Ranch to a public vote, waiting until June for an election did not sit well.
Had the question been referred to voters by Council, they would have rather broad authority to decide when the election would be — potentially even waiting until next fall’s scheduled election. Since a vote is now being spurred by petition, the city charter will require it sooner than what city staff had recommended.
Council plans to decide when the election will be at its meeting on Dec. 5.