The future of the Hughes Stadium land is officially on Fort Collins’ April election ballot.
City Council unanimously voted to put the citizen-initiated measure on the ballot Tuesday, following a court order related to the ballot language. Council is required to direct citizen-initiated measures to the ballot if they get sufficient signatures from registered voters.
If approved by voters, the ballot measure will direct the city of Fort Collins to attempt to purchase the former Hughes Stadium site from Colorado State University and zone the 165-acre site as 100% open lands. The former part of the measure was in question because the city attorney’s office considered land purchase an “administrative” matter that couldn’t legally be included in a ballot measure.
Eighth Judicial District Judge Juan Villaseñor disagreed, so the measure will include the directive to purchase the land. The ballot measure can’t force the CSU System to sell its property, but it can make the city attempt to purchase it at “fair market value,” according to the ballot language.
PATHS (Planning Action to Transform Hughes Sustainably) collected over 8,300 signatures in support of the ballot measure. PATHS representatives told the Coloradoan earlier this month that they felt vindicated by the court order that preserved the measure as they intended it.
The CSU System has its own plans for the Hughes site: Its Board of Governors plans to sell the land to Lennar Homes and use the site primarily for affordable and attainable housing, along with a child care center, transit center, emergency care clinic and about 70 acres of open space. The site cannot legally accommodate housing or the other planned facilities if it’s zoned as open land.
CSU isn’t directly opposing the ballot measure but has sought support for its site plan from the Downtown Development Authority.
The city will send out ballots in the mail to registered voters by March 19.
Hughes Stadium land ballot language
Here’s the court-ordered ballot language for the Hughes measure:
“Shall the City enact an ordinance requiring the City Council of the City of Fort Collins to immediately rezone upon passage of the ordinance a 164.56-acre parcel of real property formerly home to the Hughes Stadium from the Transition District to the Public Open Lands District, and requiring the City to acquire the property at fair market value to use said property for parks, recreation, and open lands, natural areas, and wildlife rescue and restoration, and further prohibiting the City from de-annexing, ceasing acquisition efforts or subsequently rezoning the property without voter approval of a separate initiative referred to the voters by City Council, and granting legal standing to any registered elector in the City to seek injunctive and/or declaratory relief in the courts related to City noncompliance with said ordinance.”
Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.