Not too long ago, the town was abuzz with news of prairie dogs and the newly announced project, which we now know as the Promenade at Castle Rock. Support and opposition sprang up seemingly overnight. Petitions began to circulate concerning wildlife protection as well as stopping the Promenade project. After the town council approved the project, an official petition was written and approved by the town clerk, which required 1,495 residents’ signatures, of 5% of voters, to force the issue to a referendum. Within a little over a month, 2,323 signatures had been acquired and verified by the Castle Rock town clerk. In June and without any notice, the official petition was withdrawn just hours before the Town Council was set to discuss the options.
Next week, Castle Rock voters will have their chance to respond. One of the ballot questions, Section 15-2(b), proposes an increase in percentage from 5% to 10% required signatures for referendum petitions.
The Mayor and Town Council support this increase, while some residents are calling it a knee-jerk reaction to what happened in the spring. For them, supporting this issue is protecting the residents of Castle Rock and finding a balance. “In the past, we had an instance where an outside group has taken advantage of this to their own financial advantage. They basically held the town hostage to a certain degree. The idea is you want to balance the difficulty between doing that with the desire of the community to make changes they deem appropriate,” Mayor Donahue said when asked about the issue.
Much of the opposition to Section 15-2(b) says that requirement of 10% of voters will be too high and too difficult to achieve. Many residents say that voter turnout is already low so asking to double the percentage would mean asking almost 100% of those who are coming out to vote is unreasonable.
Rachel Scarborough, a resident of Castle Rock for 9 years, is one of those who disagree with raising the percentage. “5% may not seem like a big number, however, it is when you consider that only 8% of the electorate voted in the last Town Council election. It kind of makes you wonder who they really represent. Until a there is a greater percentage of voting in elections, I don’t think the 5% should be raised,” Scarborough explained.
For one side it is an issue of protecting the town and the residents. For the other side, there seems to be an ulterior motive. This issue is incredibly divisive but on November 3rd, the voters will decide whether to raise the percentage or keep it the way it is.