Two municipalities in El Paso County have joined Colorado Springs and other cities and towns across the state in opposing a Nov. 6 ballot initiative that would require governments to pay landowners if laws or regulations reduce property values.
The Fountain City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday opposing the amendment. Green Mountain Falls did the same last week.
Fountain Mayor Gabriel Ortega said if the amendment passes, the city could face claims for almost any decision the council makes.
“There’s just a lot of ambiguity in the whole thing, and it could be pretty disastrous, I think — especially for the smaller communities that don’t have a lot of money in the first place,” Ortega said.
In a September memo, the Colorado Municipal League asked cities and towns to oppose the amendment, stating it would “cripple local budgets through increased legal costs and payouts to individual property owners.” Those expenses could cut into funding for essential municipal services, such as law enforcement, trash collection, infrastructure maintenance and parks and recreation, Executive Director Sam Mamet wrote in the memo.
“It would bankrupt small towns,” said Green Mountain Falls Mayor Jane Newberry. “We already have laws in place that protect homeowners.”
On Oct. 10, the Colorado Springs City Council approved a resolution opposing the measure. Three council members — Andy Pico, Don Knight and Tom Strand — voted “no,” questioning whether it’s appropriate for the council to take formal action on political initiatives. But other council members and the mayor voted to oppose the amendment, saying it was too vague and could drown the city in expensive litigation.
More than 100 local governments oppose the initiative, the Colorado Municipal League said in a news release Monday.
Supporters of the amendment say it strengthens individual property rights by mandating just compensation and reasonably limits governmental powers.
According to Colorado Politics, Amendment 74 is seen as a counterpoint to another initiative, Proposition 112, which would increase setbacks required between homes and new oil and gas drilling operations. Neither ballot measure mentions the other, but if they both pass, oil and gas companies presumably could sue under Amendment 74 if they were unable to develop their mineral holdings because of the new buffer zone standards, Colorado Politics reports.
This month, the Manitou Springs City Council voted 5-2 against opposing Amendment 74. Mayor Ken Jaray, who voted with Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Fortuin to oppose the amendment, said some council members believed it was inappropriate for the board to take a formal position on the ballot question.