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Timnath council OKs resolution opposing proposed ballot initiative

TIMNATH – The Timnath Town Council on Tuesday night unanimously passed a resolution opposing a proposed citizen-led ballot initiative that would amend the town charter to put proposals for structures more than 60 feet high to a public vote instead of having them decided by the town’s elected officials.

Petitions for the ballot initiative are being gathered by a group called Guide Our Growth Timnath, which was prompted by a “site plan for conceptual review” for a project that is seeking a height variance from the town’s 57½-foot structure-height limits. That site plan was provided to Timnath planners by applicant TB Group on behalf of property owner Sheri Welch and Connell LLC for a project described only as an “outdoor recreation and golf entertainment center” but widely believed to be for a Topgolf facility such as the one along Interstate 25 in Thornton. The concept sketch shows plans for a roughly 38,000-square-foot facility on nearly 12 acres including a 40-foot-high building and netting poles 156 feet high.

Town Council members said Tuesday that moving such a development decision from elected officials to the general public would disregard the processes already in place and property-rights concerns of those seeking to develop a project within the town limits, as well as undermining the roles of the planning commission, town council and established procedures for public input through hearings and comments in the project-approval process.

A news release issued by the town on Wednesday noted that “the town’s comprehensive plan was adopted recently, in 2020, after significant work by the citizens of the town of Timnath, town staff, professional consultants and the Town Council to serve as the guide for the future of development in Timnath.

At Tuesday’s meeting, council members predicted that such public votes on individual projects could be driven by rival developers with competing plans and subject the town to legal challenges.

“We are an engaged and thoughtful community whose elected officials and citizens work together to make decisions, under our recently adopted processes, in the best interests of Timnath,” said Mayor Mark Soukup in a prepared statement. “The risk of using a tool as strong as a charter amendment to dictate town services such as development and zoning is that it can have long-term, unintended consequences.”

Since Timnath is a home-rule municipality, changes to the town’s charter must be approved by Timnath voters through a ballot question, while changes to codes can be done through council action.

Timnath Town Clerk Milissa Peters-Garcia said Guide Our Growth Timnath’s petition was approved Dec. 21, and it has 90 days — until March 21 — to collect the verified signatures of 654 Timnath residents, 10% of voters registered at the time. She said once those petitions are turned in, “I then have 14 business days to verify them, and then it would go to the next council meeting to be sent to an election.”

Source: BizWest