Colorado Voter Approval of Growth, Initiative 24 (2000)

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Colorado Constitution
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Colorado Amendment 24, also known as the Voter Approval of Growth Act, was on the November 7, 2000 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.

Election results

Amendment 24
Defeatedd No1,888,13869.9%
Yes 511,885 30.1%

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:

Initiative Constitutional Amendment Analysis by Colorado Legislative Council: Requires voter approval of maps, called "growth area maps," that identify areas for future development in counties, cities, and towns of a certain population; requires affected local governments to designate areas called "committed areas," in which development may occur without voter approval because the areas meet certain qualifications; requires affected counties, cities, and towns to provide information to voters about the impacts of proposed growth; and exempts local governments below a certain population, and some types of development, from its requirements.

Background and Provisions of the Proposal: Current regulation of development. Colorado law gives counties, cities, and towns broad authority over the development of land. Counties regulate development in areas of the county outside of city limits, while cities and towns regulate development within their boundaries. To develop land, builders and property owners must satisfy local government regulations including zoning ordinances, building codes, and subdivision and platting requirements. Cities and towns may expand their boundaries by annexing land that is not part of another city or town. Local regulations are often quite detailed and consist of many steps, including review by local planning departments, public hearings before planning commissions, and public hearings and approval by boards of county commissioners or town or city councils.

Many local governments have planning commissions that create master plans to advise elected officials on development of land in their jurisdictions. Counties are required to have planning commissions; cities and towns are authorized, but not required, to have them. Local governments hold public hearings when creating or changing a master plan. Any proposal to develop land must comply with master plans that have been adopted as a local ordinance. If a master plan has not been placed in ordinance by a local government then local governments may approve development that is not consistent with these plans, or deny development that is consistent with these plans.

Voter approval of growth area maps. Local governments subject to the proposal may propose maps to voters that show the geographic areas where they want new development to occur. These maps "with a text describing the proposed growth area" will identify the general locations of proposed land uses and development densities within these areas. Growth area maps must be proposed to the voters if the local government seeks to grow beyond certain areas designated for development. Voters must approve the growth area maps before new development may occur. Growth area maps may be adopted or changed once each year at a November election.

Local governments may propose new growth areas only where the development will be served by roads and central water and sewer within ten years. Growth areas for municipalities must share at least one-sixth of their borders with areas that have already been committed to development by a local government or with other areas that have been approved by the voters as growth areas. The proposal also requires local governments to coordinate their proposed growth maps so that the maps are consistent with those of adjoining cities, towns, and counties. Public hearings must be held on proposed growth area maps.

Before a vote on a growth area map, local governments must mail to voters information describing the elements of the growth area including open spaces and parks, new public facilities and infrastructure, number of new housing units, and any local government revenue sharing arrangements. In addition, information must be mailed to voters on the anticipated effects of the proposed growth on population, traffic, air quality, and water supplies.

Areas committed to growth. Voter approval is not needed for development to occur in areas that have been designated by local governments as committed areas. To qualify as a committed area, a valid development application must have been submitted to the local government by September 13, 2000, or certain levels of construction must have already occurred on or around the land to be designated as a committed area. These areas must be identified by December 31, 2001, or within one year after a local government meets the population threshold in the proposal, whichever is later.

Local governments affected by the proposal. Counties with populations greater than 10,000, and cities and towns within these counties with populations greater than 1,000 are subject to the proposal. However, counties with fewer than 25,000 residents may vote to exempt themselves, and all cities and towns within the county, from all requirements for up to four years at a time. Cities and towns that have any part of their territory in a county subject to the proposal must also comply. Towns under 1,000 population in counties to which the proposal applies are only required to determine areas that have been committed to development. The population of a city, town or county will be determined by the most recent census data or applicable population projection.

Based on their current populations, the following counties are subject to the proposal: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Delta, Denver, Douglas, Eagle, El Paso, Fremont, Garfield, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer, Mesa, Montrose, Morgan, Pueblo, and Weld. Voters in the following counties may exempt themselves from the proposal: Alamosa, Chaffee, Elbert, Grand, Gunnison, Las Animas, Logan, Moffat, Montezuma, Otero, Park, Pitkin, Prowers, Rio Grande, Routt, Summit, and Teller. All other counties are currently exempt from the proposal's requirements.

Development exempt from the proposal. Development related to water facilities, telecommunications, utilities, mining, and oil and gas is exempt from the proposal; road construction within growth areas is not. Local governments may approve the following types of development outside of growth areas and committed areas without voter approval: - construction that does not require any further local government approval, only lacks the issuance of a building permit, or for which a development application was accepted by a local government as valid on or before September 13, 2000; - certain public facilities, groupings of new homes in rural areas that leave two-thirds of the land for open space, divisions of land greater than 35 acres that are not currently subject to county subdivision regulations, and certain small lots for farm families; and - certain retail and service businesses of less than 10,000 square feet and businesses that serve farmers and ranchers, other than confined animal feeding operations, as long as they are located at least one mile apart.

Fiscal Impact: State impacts. The proponents intend that existing estimates be used to satisfy requirements for municipal population data. If that approach is adopted, there will be no significant state fiscal impacts. If new projections are required, the Department of Local Affairs estimates that it would require an additional six full-time employees at a cost of $347,846 to fulfill the requirements of the measure. At this time, there does not appear to be any additional state fiscal impact.

Local impacts. Actual fiscal impacts on local governments are indeterminate. Local governments would assume direct costs in complying with the following five tasks required by the measure: 1) Delineating "committed areas"; 2) Developing "growth area maps"; 3) Referring growth area maps to a popular vote at a regular election; 4) Providing growth impact disclosures; and 5) Distributing the growth area map and associated impact disclosures to voters.

The Department of Local Affairs estimates that the aggregate total direct costs of initial compliance with these five requirements on the part of local governments could possibly be as high as $60 million. Only limited data exists regarding the cost to local governments of complying with an additional requirement under the measure: Ensuring that growth area maps are consistent with growth proposed by other local governments. These costs could be similar in magnitude to those associated with delineating committed areas and developing growth area maps.

Estimates of direct costs do not include the cost of updating zoning or other land use regulations in order to achieve consistency with committed areas and growth areas or the cost to be incurred by other political subdivisions (such as special districts or school districts) in complying with the measure as required by section 6 of the measure.

In the event of an unsuccessful election or in the event that growth area maps are revised in the future to reflect changing conditions, these direct costs will continue forward as recurring costs associated with local government planning efforts.

Indirect fiscal impacts on local governments are indeterminate. Possible indirect positive fiscal impacts to local governments would result from the control and possible reduction of some of the negative impacts of growth cited in section 1 ("Purpose") of the measure. There could be a significant reduction in the cost of building new roads and extending water and sewer service to low density development. It is impossible to quantify the dollar value of these positive impacts.

Indirect negative impacts are similarly impossible to quantify and thus are also indeterminate. The measure could result in negative fiscal impacts from delays in, or prohibition of, certain development, either in the short term as growth area maps are created and voted upon along with other planning tasks imposed by the measure or in the long term should citizens vote to curtail certain development.

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