Friday, September 10, 2004

?Y? question on Nov. 2 ballot

Two other initiative requests turned down by Ketchum council

Express Staff Writer

Faced with appeals to place three advisory questions on the November general election ballot, the Ketchum City Council on Tuesday said OK on one, but rejected the other two.

Approved for the ballot is an advisory question asking whether the city should lease for 99 years part of the city?s Park and Ride lot at Warm Springs and Saddle roads for a proposed YMCA facility.

Rejected was a proposed question of whether the city should annex Warm Springs Golf Course, which is located in the Blaine County unincorporated area, and whether voters should be asked about the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana.

By state law, the city must publish a legal notice of the Nov. 2 YMCA vote by next week, some 45 days before the election.

The wording on the ballot will be:

?Whether the City of Ketchum should enter into a 99-year lease for $1 a year with the YMCA for a portion of the Park and Ride lot. Subject to the condition that the lease of said property shall not encumber by lien, mortgage or otherwise the real property and that the operation of the facility shall be at no cost to the City of Ketchum.?

The vote is linked to a new ordinance that requires public approval before a lease is consummated on the property with the ?Y.? However, City Administrator Ron LeBlanc said the advisory vote is non-binding on the council.

?Y? supporters have raised $6 million toward construction of a $16 million facility.

In rejecting the proposal to annex the Warm Springs Golf course, which owners are seeking to develop with no condominium housing, the City Council said more thorough study must be conducted into the responsibilities and consequences of adding such a sizeable portion of land to the city.

As for the marijuana initiative, the council rejected the proposal after City Attorney Ben Worst said state and federal laws make marijuana illegal. He said the city could expect a lawsuit by the state if it proceeded. But he also said the sponsor of the proposed initiative, Liberty Lobby, of Bellevue, might seek a writ of mandamus ordering the city to place the question before voters.

Worst told the council he doubts any court would issue such an order.

A spokesperson for Liberty Lobby, Ryan Davidson, said his group would not sue the city over the matter, and added that similar initiative efforts are under way in the cities of Hailey and Sun Valley.

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