TIMNATH — The Timnath Town Council on Tuesday passed a resolution opposing a proposed ballot initiative aimed at amending the Town Charter to prohibit annexation of properties with open mining permits.
On the heels of a successful citizen-led ballot issue that slammed a door on a proposed Topgolf entertainment center in the planned Ladera mixed-use development, a group of five residents is collecting signatures for another ballot entry that could delay the project if voters were to approve it. This new one, if passed at Timnath’s next municipal election on April 2, would amend the Timnath town charter to prohibit the town from annexing areas being used for mining until reclamation work is complete.
The wording of the “statement of intent” the group submitted to Town Clerk Milissa Peters-Garcia calls for the prohibition to be retroactive. That would exclude any applications for annexation that are pending, such as the 189-acre tract that developer Connell LLC wants the town to take in as part of its 240-acre Ladera project. Part of Connell’s preparation to develop Ladera includes related company Connell Resources Inc.’s completion of an asphalt- and gravel-mining operation on about 158 acres of the site, followed by reclamation work.
Peters approved the petition for circulation on Oct. 30.
On Tuesday night, members of the Town Council said the proposed initiative would have detrimental effects on Timnath and its residents.
They said passing the initiative could expose the town to an increased risk of litigation, leading to higher costs for residents and legal uncertainties, and that the ballot issue conflicts with the goals that were outlined in Timnath’s comprehensive plan and charter, which were developed through extensive community engagement.
Matthew Wasserman, one of the five residents who filed the statement of intent to circulate the petition, told BizWest last week that the reason to delay any annexation until reclamation is complete is that, “when you look at the town’s land-use code, it’s not heavy-industry related. We don’t feel the town can take on something like this. If the town actually annexes the property, the town would have oversight over these heavy industries.”
However, the resolution passed Tuesday night contended that the town has no authority under state statute to assume oversight responsibility over the reclamation. Grant Nelson with Republic Investment Group, the applicant for the Ladera development that is working with Connell LLC, told BizWest that state Department of Mining and Reclamation Services, which issued the initial permit to Connell Resources, would have oversight, and a Ladera spokesperson, in an email to BizWest, wrote that “the operators of the gravel mine, Connell Resources, have given the state a $500,000 surety bond to guarantee successful reclamation.”
Town Council members also said the initiative would limit the rights of property owners and the Town Council, potentially infringing upon the constitutional rights of citizens to petition for annexation.
Wasserman told BizWest last week that “Ladera’s already going through. I don’t think there’s an overarching desire to stop Ladera.” However, a flyer being distributed by the Ladera developers to Timnath residents contends that although “the group supporting this initiative claims they are not against growth. Actions speak louder than words. Everything they have done is designed to stop or slow Ladera.”
The flyer says the Ladera project “is projected to bring in more than $200 million in sales tax revenue and millions of dollars in annual property-tax revenue. This petition puts all that at risk.”
Connell LLC’s plan for Ladera includes more than 700 homes and about 2 million square feet of commercial, office and retail space including restaurants, a dual-branded hotel, an assisted-living center and storage units.
The town has yet to approve the annexation.
The statement of intent the petitioners delivered to the town clerk states, in part, “The Colorado state Legislature has recognized through its enactment of Colorado’s mined-and reclamation statutes … that, while mining activities play important economic roles in the state, such activities can have detrimental effects on the natural resources, wildlife, aquatic resources, and community planning and development in the state. Accordingly, the state Legislature recognized that the proper reclamation of mined lands is important to protect and promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of the state.
“The people of the town have similar concerns and hereby declare that; because mining activities can be harmful to the environment, nature, wildlife, and communities affected by such activities; because including mined areas in the town that have not yet been properly reclaimed can result in detrimental effects to the town and the people of the town; and because there is good reason that state statutes and state regulatory authorities mandate and oversee the reclamation of mined areas to ensure proper reclamation of those areas before they are put to a different use, it is therefore important to prohibit the annexation of mined areas into the town that have not been properly reclaimed.”
The petitioners will need 348 valid signatures from registered Timnath voters to get their new issue onto next spring’s ballot. Petitions must be submitted to Peters-Garcia by Jan. 3, which is 90 days before the municipal election.