Remember the Strategic Growth Initiative, the citizen’s petition to limit development that was to go on Lakewood’s ballot last year?
Well, a year later, it’s still not on.
A year after Lakewood resident Steve Dorman filed a lawsuit challenging a citizen petition to place a growth restriction initiative on the November 2016 Lakewood municipal ballot, the Jefferson County District Court has dismissed all almost all of Dorman’s challenges, and could rule on those remaining after the parties file motions in late October, according to court documents.
“It won’t make the ballot,” confirmed City of Lakewood spokesperson Stacie Oulton. “The deadline to get items on the ballot passed some time ago.”
The court ruled on Aug. 27 that the Lakewood City clerk properly approved the initiative for inclusion on the ballot, but did not rule on whether the proposed initiative was unconstitutional, stating that “The issue is not ripe for determination at this stage of the process.”
Dorman’s remaining claims are that the proposed initiative improperly limits city council’s powers, violates state and federal fair housing laws, and is a taking of his property without compensation. However, because Lakewood voters have not approved the initiative, the court asked the parties to file motions arguing why or why not it would be improper – merely an advisory opinion – for the court to issue a ruling at this point in time. The final reply motion is due Oct. 19.
If the court does not dismiss Dorman’s remaining claims after reviewing the motions, a trial has been set for Feb. 11.
Should the judge rule against Dorman next month – or in February – when if ever will the initiative come before Lakewood’s voters?
“Well, there’s a few more steps,” said Oulton. “Obviously, the judge has to rule on the matter. If he rules in our favor, then the plaintiff (Dorman) has the right to appeal that ruling. If he appeals, the city can’t take action while the protest or appeal goes on.”
If Dorman chooses not to appeal, city council could then consider the initiative.
“When the case is resolved, it would come back to council, and would be put on council’s agenda… it would have the option of adopting it or referring it to the voters.”