Laveen development foes win key battle

Rural nature of Laveen, AZ[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Residents hoping to stop a large-scale apartment and townhouse project in Laveen have won a key victory in getting their referendum on the ballot.  A Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that Phoenix should process the signatures they gathered earlier this year in an effort to stop construction of the project at 27th Avenue and Baseline Road.  Neighbors say the project is too dense and will worsen existing problems with traffic and school overcrowding.  At issue is how many signatures are required for residents to refer a City Council decision to the ballot.

Phoenix argued that residents must submit signatures equivalent to 10 percent of votes in the last citywide election.  The city says the last citywide election was in September, which included the mayor’s race and a ballot initiative to fund more police and fire personnel.  By that standard, 9,798 valid signatures would be needed.

The neighbors say the relevant election was in November, when two council races had runoffs.  If Judge Richard Trujillo’s ruling is upheld, residents would need only 2,727 signatures.  Residents are confident they have that many.  By lowering the threshold to refer a council decision, the ruling could encourage more residents to take their case to the voters.  “If we’re successful, this will definitely change the landscape of future referendum drives,” said Randy Jones, who organized the petition drive against Berkana. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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