POSTED: 03/03/2015 12:00:00 AM MST11 COMMENTS
UPDATED: 03/05/2015 12:59:08 AM MST
Littleton will need to go to the voters before employing commonly used urban renewal tactics, like tax increment financing or eminent domain, according to special election results released late Tuesday.
The city in Denver's southern suburbs became the first Colorado community to place such constraints on a local government's ability to use the state-sanctioned economic development tools.
Opponents of the measure warned that Littleton would stunt its economic growth potential by making projects in hard-to-revamp areas impossible to complete.
The final tally in favor of Question 300 was 5,755 yes votes to 3,811 no votes, or 60 percent to 40 percent.
Voters passed by an even wider margin a competing ballot measure, Question 2A, which only limits Littleton's eminent domain powers.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Paul Bingham with Your Littleton Your Vote, said "like most elections, this one was a large difference of opinion, This one about what is best for Littleton."
"Thank you to the citizens of Littleton for understanding our message and voting for our charter amendment," he said.
Tuesday's victory for Your Littleton Your Vote came despite being heavily outgunned by those challenging the measure, who operated under the name Littleton Strong. Opponents raised nearly $91,000 in campaign donations while backers raised nearly $3,000.
The vast majority of Littleton Strong's donations came from heavy-hitting builders and real estate industry groups while Your Littleton Your Vote's contributions came from local residents.
Mayor Phil Cernanec, who along with city council, had opposed Question 300, released a statement late Tuesday.
"Regardless of the voters' decision, the city council and I will continue engaging with citizens and encouraging healthy dialogue on the very important issues we face," he said. "It is, and always has been, our goal to look for ways to keep Littleton moving forward."
The movement to restrict the powers of the urban renewal authority in Littleton, known as Littleton Invests For Tomorrow, began last year when Your Littleton Your Vote collected signatures to get the measure on the ballot.
A special election was scheduled for Tuesday and more than 30,000 mail-in ballot were sent out last month.
Question 300 amends Littleton's charter to require voter approval before the city lures developers with deals that share the cost of infrastructure improvements, often through the issuance of bonds, in a public-private arrangement.
Urban renewal has been widely used in Colorado, including in the developments of the Denver Pavilions on the 16th Street Mall, the Streets at SouthGlenn in Centennial and Lakewood's Belmar.
Ballot backers argued that the city doesn't need to make deals using taxpayer money to bring projects to town and shouldn't do so without voter consent. They also objected to the city's decision last year to map out four zones — deemed blighted — where urban renewal dollars could be used.
Urban renewal proponents, led by the group Littleton Strong, lashed back by placing their own measure on the ballot that only prevents the seizure of property for urban renewal projects, unless the property owner agrees to eminent domain, but keeps intact other development tools.
By having every urban renewal decision go before voters, they argued, developers will eventually just skip over Littleton and go elsewhere with their projects so as not to get entangled in expensive elections.
Editors Note: Littleton, Colorado is mostly Democratic and voted strongly for liberal representation. Urban redevelopment is not a right or left issue. It is a local control and voting righrs issue. If you feel that a local community has the right to limit "fracking" in their community then why shouldn't they be allowed to vote on the use of their taxes for redevelopment?