BREAKING NEWS: Heron Pointe opposition petition deemed insufficient
Opposition to circulate new petitions in order to rectify deficient signatures
By John Gardner
A petition seeking to repeal the approved annexation and proposed Heron Pointe development has been deemed insufficient to proceed.
Berthoud Town Clerk Mary Cowdin officially released a statement of insufficiency regarding the petition that was submitted to her office on Feb. 17 with 314 signatures supporting the referendum. There only needed to be 201 valid signatures in order for Cowdin to approve the petition. However, information provided by Cowdin indicated the 30-page document had zero sufficient signatures, citing Colorado Revised Statute 31-11-108.
“None of the signatures comply with statute,” Cowdin wrote in an email to the Surveyor.
That statute states that only registered voters eligible to vote on the measure can sign the petition. It also requires that each voter must sign and print their full name. Each signee must include their address, including street number and name, city or town and county in which they reside, and the date that they signed the petition.
“It wasn’t the same thing for each one,” Cowdin said. “What we had were, some of them had no city listed, some had just street addresses; some missed the county.”
A review of the petition’s signatures by the Surveyor found that a 176 of the signatures did not include the town of residence; just a street address was listed. The review also found that none of the signatures included the county of residence which is required by state statute.
Larimer County resident, Ed Kahle, who lives in a neighborhood adjacent to the Heron Pointe property and was one of the residents who turned in the petitions to Cowdin’s office, said he was surprised by the turn of events.
“Obviously, I’m kind of caught off guard with that,” Kahle said. “Everyone is shocked that it didn’t go through and that there was an issue.”
The group’s attorney, Ted Bendelow, said Cowdin’s reason for finding the signatures insufficient is a debate of legal terms: Wooden Compliance versus Substantial Compliance.
The debate, according to Bendelow, regards the standard to which the signatures are found to be valid or invalid.
According to Bendelow, the Wooden Compliance is a standard which means that if any part of the required signature is missing, then the signature is deemed deficient.
“That position has been rejected by the courts,” Bendelow said.
The position that’s been adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court, according to Bendelow, is Substantial Compliance; Wherein determining if the signatures are valid the clerk must consider three things: One: the extent of noncompliance; two: the purpose of the applicable provision and if the purpose is substantially achieved despite the alleged noncompliance; and three: whether there was a good faith attempt to comply or whether noncompliance is based on a conscious decision to mislead the electorate.
But none of that analysis has been done, yet.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bendelow said that the group is again organizing and will be out this weekend circulating new petitions, gathering signatures to appease the town.
“We do not agree that there are any deficiencies in the original petitions,” Bendelow said. “We are acting in good faith. We don’t know what we allegedly did wrong, but we’re doing it over again.”
Bendelow said that he has been given no specifics as to what exactly made all 314 signatures insufficient, but he admitted that not having included the county in the signatures was a likely cause.
Bendelow said that he believes, according to state statute, that the group has 15 days from the time the petitions were ruled insufficient on March 4, to return the new petitions.
The Berthoud Board of Trustees approved the annexation and zoning of the Heron Pointe property at a Jan. 13 meeting. The Heron Pointe property is located south of the Larimer County Road 14 and LCR 17 intersection and includes approximately 76 acres of single-family and multifamily residential units along with approximately 20 acres of commercially zoned property to the east of LCR 17.
Housing density, increased traffic issues and its impact on existing roadways, and the proposed commercial aspect of the development are some of the residents’ main concerns.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the print version to include information about the new petitions that was received after press deadline Wednesday.
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