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Ballot question on Lakewood growth gets new life

Cathy Kentner obtained enough signatures to ask voters whether Lakewood's growth should be capped at one percent, but it was held up in court until now.

As more and more people move into Lakewood, there is a question out there, should the city limit growth to one percent per year?

"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is a Lakewood issue," Cathy Kentner said.

Kentner is part of a grass roots group called the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative. In the summer of 2017, Kentner and others gathered enough signatures to place a ballot question asking voters whether residential growth should be capped versus the current system which ushers in new housing.

"Because it is encouraging high-end, market-rate luxury apartments over the affordable units that we need," Kentner said.

But, the ballot question was delayed because of a lawsuit filed by Lakewood Resident Steve Dorman, who also serves as vice chairman for the Jefferson County Republican Party. After more than a year in court, a judge ruled in favor of the ballot measure last Wednesday.

"It upholds the people's right to initiative and shows all claims against this grass-root-petition-gathering effort were baseless," Kentner said. "The people will finally have their say and the vote that has been denied them for over 15 months."

In July 2017, Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said that this ballot measure is unnecessary because the city already manages growth.

"I'm looking for quality versus a number. We want to make sure that the growth that we're seeing is good growth, smart growth," Paul said in July 2017.

Kentner says the current system is just causing housing prices to rise in Lakewood and across the Denver Metro area.

"The current building is not helping our economy," Kentner said. "It's putting more families in poverty."

Dorman says he plans to appeal the court's ruling.

He wrote in an email, "I believe in the sanctity of property rights. And no, I don't want to let voters make any decisions on those rights.....any more than I would submit free speech rights to a vote."

Kentner plans to move forward by meeting with the Lakewood City Council to have a special election scheduled for the spring on her ballot measure.