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Interesting initiatives grace local ballots

Local municipalities have interesting initiatives on their ballots this year. These three from Littleton, Englewood and Aurora stood out.

LITTLETON, Colo. — Littleton voters will weigh in on a ballot initiative that won’t really do anything this fall.

Ballot question 301 asks voters if they want to repeal an amendment to a development plan for the Aspen Grove shopping center near Santa Fe Drive and Mineral Avenue.

“For the last few years, they’ve been reporting a decline in their sales tax revenue,” said Rob Tann, a journalist with Colorado Community Media who has covered the year-and-a-half long saga surrounding Aspen Grove for the Littleton Independent.

You should read Rob’s full reporting on the story here.

But here’s a condensed version:

The owners of Aspen Grove initially proposed a new mixed-use development for the property that would have included 2,000 housing units, according to Tann’s reporting. The city council approved it.

Citizens who didn’t support that dense of a housing plan gathered signatures and forced city council to put a repeal of that development plan on the 2022 ballot.

In the meantime, the city council in Littleton approved a new land-use code for properties like Aspen Grove. The new code allows for some housing development.

Aspen Grove’s ownership submitted a new development proposal with fewer homes, about 500, and the city council approved it.

“No matter what happens, whether citizens vote to approve it or not, this other plan for 500 housing units has been approved under a completely different land use code and the old plan has been approved over something that no longer exists,” Tann said.

“What it really will show, and it’ll be interesting to watch… is it’ll demonstrate kind of where Littleton’s appetite is I guess for denser housing like this,” he said.

Up the road in Englewood, voters will weigh 10 separate ballot initiatives. One of them, 2D, would amend the city’s charter to remove gender-specific pronouns, referring to city council members instead as “council members.”

It’s part of a trend in cities to update antiquated city charters. Earlier this year, the city council in Northglenn voted unanimously to remove gender-specific pronouns from its municipal codes.  But a year ago in Westminster, the city asked voters for a similar change and voters rejected the proposal by about 800 votes.

In Aurora, voters will weigh whether to change the city’s charter to allow some felons to run for political office. The measure stems from a recent court ruling that required the city to make the change. The proposed change instead names convictions that would preclude someone from running for office, including embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury, solicitation of bribery or subornation of perjury.

Candace Bailey, a community organizer who ran for Aurora City Council last year, sued the city over the provision in the charter that banned all felons from running. Bailey was convicted of second-degree assault in the 1990s.

“The court ruled that in fact my civil rights had been violated that the constitution did uphold my right as a felon to run for office and for any felon,” she said.

The ACLU worked with Bailey on the lawsuit. It announced Wednesday that it has sent a letter to 12 other Colorado municipalities with a similar provision against felons running for office, warning them of the court’s ruling in the Aurora case.

“I will use the rest of my life to change things for others and to give back to a community that I did damage in my lifetime,” Bailey said. “I believe everyone has the capacity to change their life and be a better person at some point.”

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