Judge clears path for bal­lot ini­tia­tive on Aurora speed­way

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Joella Bau­mann

Aurora res­i­dents will likely see a bal­lot mea­sure on the Novem­ber bal­lot ask­ing them to re­peal a city­wide ban on mo­tor­sports venues. If it passes, a 1,700-acre area south­east of Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port could be des­ig­nated as an en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict, al­low­ing the city to use sub­si­dies to smooth the way for new venues — such as a speed­way — to be built.

Dis­trict Court Judge John Wheeler sided with the city, dis­miss­ing a law­suit filed by Aurora res­i­dents Ja­son Legg and Kristin Mal­lory that would have killed the bal­lot mea­sure.

The law­suit claimed lan­guage of the mea­sure was in­ten­tion­ally mis­lead­ing to vot­ers, and that ti­tle lan­guage broke rules by ad­dress­ing more than a sin­gle sub­ject.

The city did not re­turn calls for com­ment.

Legg said he doesn’t sup­port sub­si­diz­ing in gen­eral, but isn’t tak­ing is­sue with that. He just wants the city to be clear about what it’s ask­ing vot­ers to ap­prove.

The amend­ment does state that des­ig­nat­ing the area as an en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict would open up the pos­si­bil­ity of a mo­tor­sports venue, but Legg said that it’s buried in the de­tails. He’d also like the city to re­write the bal­lot ti­tle to in­clude lan­guage that re­minds folks that they voted against sim­i­lar re­peals in 2001 and 2015.

“The city can al­ready sub­si­dize other venues that are not sports fa­cil­i­ties,” Legg said. “They’re not be­ing straight­for­ward in the char­ter amend­ment and ti­tle.”

The law­suit ar­gued that there are too many is­sues be­ing raised in a sin­gle bal­lot mea­sure, and that the amend­ment uses “catch phrases” that pan­der to the emo­tions of vot­ers.

“I think it’s putting lip­stick on it,” Legg said. “Vot­ers are go­ing to think they’re au­tho­riz­ing an en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict, not a mo­tor­sports fa­cil­ity.”

Wheeler didn’t agree. In his rul­ing, he found that the lan­guage of the bal­lot mea­sure dealt with a sin­gle sub­ject, ac­cu­rately rep­re­sented the in­tent of the or­di­nance and did not con­tain “im­per­mis­si­ble ‘catch phrases’ or slo­gans.”

Aurora Mayor Steve Ho­gan has in the past said chang­ing the city’s char­ter lan­guage would help so­lid­ify the north­east part of the city as the next big growth area, draw­ing new restau­rants, store­fronts and clubs to the en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict.

The City Coun­cil has al­ready ap­proved the char­ter amend­ment, and bar­ring any fur­ther le­gal ac­tion by Legg or oth­ers, the mea­sure prob­a­bly will be on the fall bal­lot.

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