Committee seeking to force referendum on Brown Ranch reports gathering 1,900 signatures

Looking to force a voter referendum on the Brown Ranch annexation agreement, the Let Steamboat Vote committee reported Friday that the group has gathered 1,900 signatures and submitted them to the Steamboat Springs city clerk.

After months of negotiations with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, Steamboat Springs City Council approved the annexation agreement covering the 534-acre Brown Ranch property on Oct. 17.

The agreement outlines a 20-year plan that, if completed, would allow for the construction of 2,264 affordable housing units on the Brown Ranch property.

Per the agreement, the homes at Brown Ranch would be phased in over 20 years with controls for city officials to slow the development down if they decide that’s necessary.

After City Council approved the annexation agreement in October, the Let Steamboat Vote committee had 30 days to collect enough signatures to force a voter referendum. Opponents to the annexation agreement have argued the project is too big and would put Steamboat taxpayers at risk.

For the group to successfully send the annexation agreement to a voter referendum, Let Steamboat Vote will need at least 10% of the number of registered voters in Steamboat to be validated by the city clerk, and the clerk now has 10 days to pore over the signatures that have been submitted to determine if the petition is valid.

The Let Steamboat Vote committee includes Brian Harvey, Jim Engelken, Cedar Beauregard, Kelly Phillips and Heather Sloop. They originally had hoped to gather at least 1,200 signatures, but they have surpassed that goal.

According to the committee, its members gathered the signatures with the help of more than 50 Steamboat Springs citizens who submitted more than 60 petitions.

The group’s petition follows a closely related decision by voters in the November election in which Steamboat backed Proposition 2i, a proposal to fund the project by dedicating 75% of the revenue from the city’s 9% tax on short-term rentals to the housing authority for the Brown Ranch project.

Had voters rejected 2i, that could have left the project’s funding in limbo. However, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s latest count from the Nov. 7 election, more than 54% of Steamboat voters favor the measure with 2i passing 2,789-2,301.

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