BREAKING NEWS: Second Heron Pointe petition rejected

Town Clerk says group missed deadline to file petition

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

Berthoud Town Clerk Mary Cowdin rejected an addendum petition Friday afternoon, submitted by Heron Pointe opposition earlier in the week. The petition attempted to put to a public vote the Heron Pointe annexation and proposed development.

The addendum petition was turned in on March 18 with more than 300 signatures but, Cowdin explained that she rejected the petition because the 30 day deadline, according to municipal code, to file petitions on the issue had already passed. The group had 30 days from the date the ordinance titles were published in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor on Jan. 15. With Feb. 15 falling on a Sunday, and the following Monday being Presidents Day, the group had until Feb. 17 to turn in the original petition, which they did. Cowdin rejected the initial petition because all 314 signatures didn’t include the county of residence, as well, almost half of the signatures failed to include the town of residence required per state statute.

Cowdin said that the municipal election code is clear.

“There is nothing in the municipal election code that allows for addendum petitions to be turned in, or any petition to be turned in, after the 30 days,” Cowdin said.

Group spokesman Ed Kahle said in an email to the Surveyor that the group is considering legal action to determine the addendum petition’s legitimacy.

“County residences [sic] then scrambled to correct the issue on the document thinking that they had 15 days per state statutes to remedy the issues,” Kahle wrote. “Three hundred signatures for the corrected petition were collected.”

Kahle expressed frustration regarding Cowdin’s initial reason for deeming the original petition insufficient, calling it a “technicality.”

He also appeared to be confused by her decision because the original petition was approved by Cowdin before it was initially circulated.

“The information missing was apparently something that they did not point out on the approved document and that was to write “Larimer or Weld” county,” Kahle wrote.

Cowdin said that the petition was approved because it included all areas required by statute. The documents for collecting signatures included boxes for printed names, signatures, address, and date. However, there was no clarification on what needed to be included in the address box.

Cowdin said that it’s not her responsibility to ensure the signers include all the information.

“That is between them and those circulating the petitions,” Cowdin said. “I was focusing on, does it have everything the statute says it need to have.”

Longmont Attorney Ted Bendelow had no comment on future course of action other than saying he and the group he represents is considering the issues.

As for Cowdin’s most recent decision, Bendelow said that it’s a matter of interpretation.

“There is a statutory provision regarding statewide matters that clearly allows what was submitted to be accepted,” Bendelow said. “That same section, on the surface, is not available for municipal annexations.”