Citizens options - city project

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Old 02-23-16, 05:07 AM
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Citizens options - city project

Hello,

I am from a small community and our city council has decided to do a large scale project that they are wanting to assess the community for these dollars.

I am simply wondering what sort of recourse do citizens have in this case? The council says this will not go to a vote and they are following century code law and this will happen but we cannot get an answer as to what options we have to halt the project as I don't think they want that to happen nor do they really know.

Anyone out there know about options here and how this all works? We would ultimately like to halt the project to have it reevaluated would be our goal.

Thanks.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 05:10 AM
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Surely they have to have public hearings addressing the project and would allow input from the citizens. But you'd have to have a lot of folks there voicing their opinion against the project to have a chance of changing their minds. Remember they are elected officials.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 05:13 AM
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We really can't help you without more info. Can you tell us what the project is? You mention century old codes. Can you expand? In many cases the State can over rule local codes depending what it is. Is the project historically related? That may give you leverage to at least temporarily halt movement. Is there a reason why it won't go to a vote? Has there been a community meeting at town hall to talk about the project?
 
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Old 02-23-16, 05:44 AM
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Welcome to representative government. The mechanisms of how things work is described in state law and further refined by the city charter. As such, they are somewhat different for each state and to a lesser amount, each city within a state.

You may (or may not) have the power to file a referendum against the project that would force the city to submit the project to a vote of the people. The basic procedure would be to first get a court to issue an injunction prohibiting the city from proceeding in its plans and then you would have a specified time frame to collect a specified number of signatures from citizens opposed to the project. All of the requirements, if they are even allowed in your jurisdiction, will be clearly laid out in the city charter and/or state law.

Unfortunately, the process, IF it is even allowed in your jurisdiction, is tilted in favor of the elected officials.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 05:46 AM
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wow thanks for the quick responses. I hope below helps to shed a little more light on the matter.

The project is a large scale road repair and widening in addition to redoing drainage and ditching. for a multi million dollar project spread across a few hundred homes is significant

There have been monthly council meetings folks can attend but there is only a few folks that show up to each meeting. There was a survey that was done asking folks there thoughts 6 months ago about opinions on road safety, assessments, etc. Meeting minutes are very cryptic and much of the town doesn't even know this is occurring. The word has gotten out only because easement notices or something like that went to those folks where the city is needing the space for the widening.

Does the community all need to come together to one meeting to put a halt to this? or a petition perhaps?

@Furd, you were responding as I was.

Who can one contact to get clarity on this stuff as to what we can do, etc. I look at the century code stuff the city posted and it is cryptic and challenging to understand unless you read this stuff often. I had thought about contacting our city attorney but i know meetings I have been to he has mentioned he has gotten a call from so and so, etc and I would like to remain somewhat under the radar.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 06:08 AM
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Did you even read my response?

The FIRST thing you need to do is to consult with an attorney to see if you even have any right to question what the elected officials are doing. Many jurisdictions do NOT have a referendum process and therefore the only way to stop politicians is usually a recall election.

You also need to check state law. In other words, you need to do a whole lot of "behind the scenes" checking BEFORE going to court to try to stop the actions of the city council. Since the city has their own attorney (either elected, appointed or contracted) it is not very often that they would be moving ahead on the project contrary to law. You need to be VERY sure of your ground before making a fool out of yourself.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 06:18 AM
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@Furd apologies I had already posted before your response showed up. Thanks for the info.

I am not sure what a recall election is? Is the election of the officials on the council and if so we are so small we struggle to get anyone to sit on it so this wouldn't go over very well in our case.

It sounds to me as a normal citizen we are SOL for things of this nature unless one is willing to hire an attorney to do the leg work on this sort of thing which is really unfortunate. This is not a jab at any one of you but my frustration with the abilities of a few individuals to hold such power and decision.

Our attorney is contracted and I don't think they are going around the law. Without going in to detail, the communication has been less then adequate for something of this significance and how the decision to do what they are doing has no backing is why citizens are frustrated. We believe it could have and should been done differently.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 06:23 AM
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One further thing.

When I was at a meeting the attorney was talking about something along the lines of 50% of people oppose the project something can happen. The council was then discussing methods of funding the project using sales tax as an option if this were to occur. Maybe this is unique to my area and probably a long shot but anyone know what they might have been referring here? @marksr, maybe this is what you were referring too perhaps.
 
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Old 02-23-16, 07:49 AM
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I'm sorry but you're clearly in over your head, please schedule additional time with the attorney and consider hiring one as well to augment the contracted one you mentioned.
 
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