Repeal group's second petition ruled to be 140 signatures short

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 6:51 p.m. CDT; updated 7:33 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2014

COLUMBIA — A petition seeking to block the city's second development agreement with Opus Development Co. is 140 signatures short of what's required, City Clerk Sheela Amin informed the petitioning group on Wednesday.

In a letter to the group, known as Repeal 6214, Amin said the petition included only 3,069 signatures from registered Columbia voters. Repeal 6214's spokesman Jeremy Root emailed the letter to the Missourian.

Repeal 6214 has until July 16 to file a supplementary petition to meet the required number of signatures, Amin said.

Root said the group is confident it will gather the additional 140 signatures required in the next 14 days.

Opus plans to build a six-story, 260-bed student housing complex on Locust Street between Seventh and Eighth streets.

If the petition had been deemed valid, it would have forced the Columbia City Council to either repeal the agreement it passed on May 19 or place it on the ballot for a public vote.

The May 19 agreement formalizes the developer's $450,000 contribution to the city's sanitary sewer and water utilities, as well as the purchase of two years of city bus passes for residents, which would be worth $30,680.

Section 128 of the Columbia City Charter says a referendum petition seeking the repeal of an ordinance must bear a number of signatures equal to a quarter of the votes cast in the previous mayoral election. According to Amin's calculations, a quarter of the 12,835 votes cast in the 2013 mayoral election is 3,209 signatures.

"If you wish to submit a supplementary petition, it must be submitted to my office on or before 5:00 p.m. on July 16, 2014," Amin wrote in her email to Repeal 6214.

Repeal 6214 draws its name from the bill number of the first Opus agreement, which the group successfully petitioned against. The council chose to repeal that agreement on June 16. The second agreement was passed, in part, to accommodate the group's concerns about the process the council used to pass the first agreement in March. The council used two special meetings and an unusual one-week process to pass the first agreement.

Root said the group will have volunteers gathering signatures at the Columbia Farmer’s Market and at the city's Fourth of July celebrations this weekend, he said.

“What’s more American than gathering signatures on a petition?” Root said.

Gathering additional signatures is nothing new for the group. Its first petition, originally submitted April 8, was ruled 91 signatures short of the required 3,209. On May 1, Amin notified the group that it had submitted only 3,118 signatures. Eight days later, the group submitted 237 more valid signatures.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.



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