WESTMINSTER, Colo. — A group of Westminster residents is gathering signatures in hopes of overturning a city council decision to allow a housing development to move forward on more than 200 acres of open farmland.
However, another community group is urging people not to sign the petition, saying a special election that could be triggered would be costly to Westminster taxpayers.
“It’s more divisiveness for our community,” said Bryan Head, chairman of the Sensible Westminster group that is asking people not to sign petitions.
The issue involves the planned Uplands development that will bring in 2,350 new homes to Westminster, including 300 deed-restricted affordable homes, on 230 acres of open farmland near the intersection of 84th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
Westminster City Council approved the mixed-use development after three long, contentious hearings by a 5-2 vote in late December. If the petition drive is successful, council will either have to reconsider its position or decide whether to run a special election or put it up as ballot question during the next general election, according to a city spokesperson.
Organizers have until Feb. 9 to collect more than 8,000 signatures from registered voters who reside in Westminster.
Karl Merida, one of the organizers looking to overturn the council's decision, views this area as one of the last pristine areas of the city.
“This area could be lost forever,” he said.
Head, however, feels that this farmland is the perfect spot for some needed development. He’s also launched a website aimed at discouraging residents from signing the petition.
“I feel strongly that this is the right development at the right time for our community,” he said. “Decline to sign the petition because this is a costly election on a project that has been vetted by our community, by city staff, by our elected leaders.”
If a special election occurs, it would be the second in the city in as many years. In 2021, petition gatherers were able to force a recall election for multiple city council members who were viewed as responsible for the high water rates throughout the city.
This time, Merida recognizes that it’s more of an uphill battle for organizers.
“This is a money grab, a maximum profit play for the developer,” Merida said.