The Colorado State University System’s concept plan for a neighborhood on the former Hughes Stadium site in Fort Collins. Courtesy CSU System

Fort Collins City Council sends Hughes Stadium petition to April ballot

FORT COLLINS — Voters in Fort Collins will decide whether the city will approach the Colorado State University System to buy the Hughes Stadium property and keep it solely for open space, weeks after the higher education board moved to develop housing on the property.

The council voted to send the petition to next April’s municipal election ballot after tying on a 3-3 vote to enact the petition as a city ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Kristin Stephens, who is due to leave the council after winning a seat on the Larimer County Board of Commissioners, did not vote. She has previously recused herself on Hughes Stadium votes because she is employed at CSU.

Council members Ross Cunniff, Susan Gutowsky and Julie Pignataro were in favor of enacting the petition as law immediately, but Mayor Wade Troxell and council members Emily Gorgol and Ken Summers said the entirety of the city deserves to have their voices heard on the petition, which garnered more than 8,000 signatures.

“I think this is a great part of the democratic process, and that’s where I’m getting hung up, because I think we could try and get it as open space and I think that gets us toward our climate action,” Gorgol said. “But I have concerns about finishing out that democratic process and taking it to the ballot, because I think people … want to put it on the ballot, and I think that’s different than supporting it.”

However, city attorney Carrie Daggett said while the portion of the petition that would rezone the area as open space is likely fair game, a state judge likely will have to decide if requiring the city to buy a piece of land is allowed under the citizen initiative rules.

The Hughes development proposal in May would have allowed up to 550 homes to be built on the site by national homebuilder Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), down from the original plans for 600 to 700 homes.

It faced heavy opposition from locals who were worried about additional traffic loads, along with environmental groups that wanted the area to remain as open space and a habitat for wildlife.

After a tie at the city council killed a rezoning proposal for the area in May, CSU’s board of governors voted unanimously in October to invoke a state legal clause that allows state entities to develop properties on their own without local government control. While city officials can provide input and hold public hearings, they no longer have sway in CSU’s decisions.

CSU’s plans for the property call for 462 homes and 170 apartment units.

The university is still under contract to sell the property to Lennar, but it is unclear how the council’s decision or a potential voter decision could affect the university’s plans to develop the area by itself. A spokesperson for the system declined to comment Wednesday morning.

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FORT COLLINS — Voters in Fort Collins will decide whether the city will approach the Colorado State University System to buy the Hughes Stadium property and keep it solely for open space, weeks after the higher education board moved to develop housing on the property.

The council voted to send the petition to next April’s municipal election ballot after tying on a 3-3 vote to enact the petition as a city ordinance. Mayor Pro Tem Kristin Stephens, who is due to leave the council after winning a seat on the Larimer County Board of Commissioners, did not vote. She has previously recused herself on Hughes Stadium votes because she is employed at CSU.

Council members Ross Cunniff, Susan Gutowsky and Julie Pignataro were in favor of enacting the petition as law immediately, but Mayor Wade Troxell and council members Emily Gorgol and Ken Summers said the entirety of the city deserves to have their voices heard on the petition, which garnered more than 8,000 signatures.

“I think this is a great part of the democratic process, and that’s where I’m getting hung up, because I think we could try and get it as open space and I think that gets us toward our climate action,” Gorgol said. “But I have concerns about finishing out that democratic process and taking it to the ballot, because I think people … want to put it on the ballot, and I think that’s different than supporting it.”

However, city attorney Carrie Daggett said while the portion of the…