The referendum is moving forward and is scheduled to be on the ballot for the election to be held June 30, 2020.
The Final Numbers
The city approved our referendum application and we then had 45 days until February 24, 2020 to get 241 signatures of Coalville registered voters. The number needed is equal to 35% of active voters and we set a goal to reach 300 signers.
We began the signature drive on January 20, 2020 with a kick-off event “By the People – For the People”
It was a very memorable and interactive event. During the next few weeks we hosted a series of signing locations and finally visited individuals who had expressed interest. The final signature was gathered on Feburary 10, 2020 bringing the total signatures to 328, exceeding our goal. A small group gathered on the County Courthouse steps and together delivered the last packet to the county clerk. It was a great day!
The County Clerk then went through the process to verify each signature. The verification was completed on Feburary 19, 2020 and the Summit County Clerk certified 303 valid signatures had been submitted by the referendum organizers. Coalville City then notified the referendum sponsors that both propositions were eligible to be placed on the ballot for a special election to be held on June 30, 2020.
The Special Election was scheduled for June 30, 2020 (may be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions) with a resolution passed unanimously by the City Council on April 13, 2020. The issue is now officially on the ballot. Voters will have an opportunity to vote either FOR or AGAINST upholding the approval of the Wohali project zone change.
Arguments both in support and against the referendum as well as the rebuttal statements are currently being written for the Voter Information Pamphlet. Any interested party may submit a statement but only one can be selected. Please contact the City directly if you are interested in participating in this process. The Voter Information Pamphlet will be available closer to the election. Voters need to seek out perspectives on all sides of the issues, including the City’s position, information provided by the developer and also the views of the citizen group and referendum sponsors. We plan to increase our efforts to provide useful information surrounding the issues as we move closer to the election.
Thoughts on Referendums
A referendum is a very powerful tool and must be used carefully and thoughtfully. Legislation passed by the Utah legislature in 2019 has made it increasingly more difficult for a citizen group to obtain a land use referendum. It should be a difficult process! Most of the time the important job of city planning is best coordinated by the planning commission and city staff, and approved by our elected officials.
But when actions are taken by the city that are in direct conflict with the goals, vision and desires of the public there needs to be a method to overturn the decision. In order for a referendum to be possible there must be strong support from the citizens, especially under the new more strict regulations. In our case we obtained signatures from 44% (35% required) of voters in support of the referendum in only 21 days (less than half of the 45 days allowed). This is a clear indication of the Coalville City voter’s desire to have their voice heard on this issue. We are very pleased to have been able to participate in the democratic process and bring this opportunity to our fellow citizens.