Voters Await Results of Special Election; Ballots Due July 23
Ballots for Town of Lake City’s Tuesday, July 23, special election to determine whether or not Off Highway Vehicles (OHVs) will be continue to be allowed on town streets were mailed by Town Clerk Jamie Turrentine July 1 and 2, and are due back in Town offices no later than July 23.
According to Turrentine, 383 ballots were mailed; individuals requiring an absentee ballot should contact the Town Clerk.
Votes will be tallied after close of election, 7 p.m. July 23. Judges for the election are Brittany McLaughlin, Karen McClatchie, Bill Kastendieck, Penny Kastendieck, and Becki Casey.
The election was prompted when a petition seeking regulation of OHVs was submitted by Larry Iiams and John Coy to Lake City Trustees in January of this year and determined to be sufficient on February 1, 2019.
The language of the ballot is as follows: “Shall the Town of Lake City adopt the following ordinance? An ordinance of the Town of Lake City, Colorado, repealing section 20-76 of article IV of the municipal code of the Town of Lake City regulating the operation of off-highway vehicles within the Town of Lake City and enacting a new section 20-78 to article IV of the municipal code of the Town of Lake City prohibiting the use and operation of off-highway vehicles within the Town of Lake City. Section 1: Section 20-76 of Article IV of the Municipal Code of the Town of Lake City is hereby repealed. Section 2: A new Section of Article IV of the Municipal code of the Town of Lake City is hereby enacted with the following provisions:
A. Except as provided for in section 20-77 of Article IV of the Municipal Code of the Town of Lake City, no off-highway vehicle, the same as defined by CRS 33-14.5-101 et seq., shall be used or operated upon or within any street, highway, alleyway, sidewalk, pathway or other public thoroughfare within the territorial limits of the Town of Lake City.
B. The adoption of any new ordinance allowing the use or operation of any off-highway vehicle on or within any street, highway, alleyway, sidewalk, pathway or other public thoroughfare within the territorial limits of the Town of Lake City shall be decided by the registered voters of the Town of Lake City at a regular special election.”
Simply stated, a “yes” vote will prohibit OHVs on town streets; a “no” vote will allow OHVs access to town streets and sections of Highway 149.
District Attorney Dan Hotsinpiller conducted a meeting Monday, April 22, during which the conflicting rulings from Judge Yoder and Judge Patrick regarding the operation of licensed OHVs on state highways was discussed. Present at the meeting were all the deputies, sheriffs, and county attorneys in the Seventh Judicial District, as well as some of the Parks and Wildlife officers.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Hotsinpiller determined that the Yoder ruling prevails over the Patrick ruling and that, henceforth, the operator of any OHV – licensed or not – found driving on any state highway in his jurisdiction would be ticketed. The exception is a short-term “Pilot Program” between Town of Lake City, Hinsdale County and Colorado Department of Transportation allowing OHV traffic on the section of Highway 149 between 2nd Street in Lake City and County Road 30.
The last election held regarding this matter was December 15, 2015; by substantial majority, Town of Lake City voters approved OHVs on public streets and alleys within the town on both a short-term and long-term basis, giving majority approval to both a test pilot OHV program and allowing OHVs within the town on a permanent basis through repeal of a 2008 town ordinance prohibiting the vehicles.
In the 2015 special election, 132 votes were cast in favor of an OHV pilot program during the summer of 2016, with 81 votes against; 120 votes were in favor of OHVs being allowed on a permanent basis on town streets and public thoroughfares, with 96 voting against the measure.
During the lead-up to the most recent special election, both those in favor of and those against OHVs have registered strong opinions on the matter, voicing their opinions using many different forums: letters to the editor in SILVER WORLD, social media, Town Board of Trustees meetings, extensive orange and yellow town signage campaigns, and extensive newspaper advertising.
Two groups pro and con the issue were organized in Lake City: Turn Around Lake City, which supports the petition, and Elevate Lake City, opposing it.
Advertising for Turn Around Lake City has been thematic, citing quality of life, property values and a struggling economy in Lake City. In the June 28 issue or WORLD, Elevate Lake City ran an ad listing all the local businesses in support of OHVs.
Town of Lake City initially sought to delay the July 23 election until November 5 based on the municipality’s contention that threatened high spring runoff and potential flooding might disrupt the election.
It was determined by Hinsdale County District Court Judge J. Stephen Patrick, however, that the election should continue as scheduled on July 23.