GMF finalizes plan to streamline new laws

GMF finalizes plan to streamline new laws

Rick Langenberg

Green Mountain Falls has become the sole town in the area to enact a single-reading policy for adopting new laws

Under the new procedure, residents must make their opinions known regarding a proposed ordinance during a designated public workshop. In fact, they may only have one prime opportunity to comment, prior to an official vote by the board of trustees regarding a new law.

Last week, the town’s board of trustees unanimously okayed the final review of this policy, aimed at streamlining the process for approving new ordinances. The new changes, though, won’t affect proposed zoning changes.

“We feel this is a good direction,” said Mayor Lorrie Worthey, who cited many delays with the current process. Unlike recent meetings, the new streamlining policy didn’t generate any complaints from a familiar group of critics of the current administration.

According to GMF Attorney Matt Krob, the new change may be different from municipalities in the area, but it isn’t that unique for small statutory towns in Colorado. Krob has been a big proponent of the change, citing the fact that it now takes several months for a new law to get approved, based on publication requirements. He believes this will release the hamstrings placed on the town government somewhat. The board of trustees has expressed a desire to update many of its laws on the books, which could result in a spree of new ordinances. But with its previous regulations, this type of overhaul could have taken months to achieve.

The one area of contention, though, has focused on whether the town should have citizens comment at an actual public hearing, or at a workshop. The trustees have opted for the workshop avenue, saying this provides a better forum for open communications. “A workshop is more of a dialogue between the board and the citizens,” said Krob, in analyzing the new policy at last week’s regular meeting. “It helps both sides to come to the table.”

He told the board that citizens will still have ample opportunity to review new laws. Under the new system, a law will be introduced at a meeting by a board member of by the mayor. Then a public workshop will be held for comment on the proposal, followed by an official board vote at a subsequent meeting. During this final meeting, the entire new proposed law will be publicly read, unless the far majority of the elected leaders don’t want to read the entire ordinance. And if the new law is approved, it won’t go into effect for 30 days, allowing opportunities for citizens, who disagree with aspects of the new law, to initiate a petition.

This policy differs from the procedures in Woodland Park and Cripple Creek, which require two readings of new laws during public hearings. But usually, public comment only occurs during one of these designated hearings.

Some critics have accused the current administration of adopting this policy so they can make rapid law changes with little transparency. The current board, though, says they are trying to do things in a more efficient manner.

GMF officials also are reviewing the current way they post ordinances, in an effort to cut costs. They currently publish ordinances in the Pikes Peak Courier.

But City Clerk Mary Duval last week indicated that she wants to review other alternatives.