Judge clears path for ballot initiative on Aurora speedway
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.