On Thursday, the Superior Town Clerk’s office conditionally approved a referendum petition to circulate and obtain signatures in protest of the recent vote by the town’s board of trustees passing the ordinance to develop Coal Creek Innovation Park, destined to be a life sciences campus downtown.

Residents Ryan Hitchler and Jason Serbu first submitted the petition Aug. 29, but it was rejected Sept. 6 by the town clerk.

The Superior board’s controversial approval of the life science campus came despite residents expressing strong opposition to the massive, predominantly commercial development. The evening of the Aug. 22 meeting, trustee Laura Skladzinski, who was also vocal in her opposition, prematurely departed the meeting and was absent from the vote.

The board ultimately voted 3-2 in favor of the development, leaving many residents confused and angry. Had Skladzinski cast a vote against the development, a 3-3 vote would have defeated the ordinance.

The project is a collaboration between Ranch Capital Superior and PMB LLC, formerly known as Pacific Medical Buildings, which bills itself as a “full-service healthcare real estate development company.” PMB also developed Superior Medical Center, and Ranch Capital has had ties to Superior’s downtown development for nearly a decade.

Residents have repeatedly expressed their opposition to the project over its emphasis on commercial and bio-medical industry space rather than a project creating a vibrant town square activated by a mix of residential, retail and mixed-use space.

Following the clerk’s approval of the petition, Hitchler and Serbu now must obtain a minimum of 487 signatures and submit them to the clerk by Sept. 24.

If the petition with signatures is returned on time and accepted by the clerk’s office, the board of trustees will be asked to repeal their vote on the development, or send the matter to the voters in what would likely be a special election.

Trustees Neal Shah, who is running for re-election, and Mark Lacis, who is running for mayor, voted against the development.

“I’m glad that Colorado law allows this mechanism for our residents to challenge the decisions made by their government,” said Shah in a statement Thursday. “While the petition process isn’t simple, it is important that voters can challenge decisions made by their elected representatives.”

The petition bears similarity to the action taken by residents of Louisville when they successfully opposed the Redtail Ridge Development, which was defeated during a special election in April.

“It’s a big relief that we can circulate the petition and start to gather the signatures. Now the hard work begins, and we’ve set a goal of 700 signatures,” said Hitchler.  “It’s going to be a challenge, but we do have a good plan. We’re excited to get going.”

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Jennifer LeDuc
2022-09-18 23:06:59
Boulder Daily Camera

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