The Jackson Town Council has certified a petition signed by 481 voters to hold a referendum on the recently passed District 2 land development regulations.
Rather than wait until the Nov. 8 general election, the council unanimously voted Wednesday to hold a special election on Sept. 20 and gauge voters’ opinions on the issue as soon as possible.
“I would like to move as quickly as possible and let the voters weigh in,” Mayor Sara Flitner said. “My interest from the beginning has been and remains housing. ... I’m interested in using this surgical area [District 2] to see if in fact we can get the result we want.”
Because the development regulations affect only District 2, the election will be limited to town residents.
Councilwoman Hailey Morton Levinson and Councilman Jim Stanford expressed interest in immediately repealing the District 2 ordinances so the council could begin the process of amending the development regulations and remove the major sticking point, allowing short-term rentals in the downtown core of District 2. If removed, they said, short-term rentals could be added back in at a later time if the intended deed-restricted housing was not realized without it.
The council, however, ultimately stood by the development regulations passed a month ago.
“The majority opinion is represented by the electeds who are elected by a majority of the voters ... so we have already arrived at a majority opinion,” Councilman Don Frank said at Wednesday’s special meeting. “Our regulations represent that thoughtful, extensive, inclusive and balanced public discussion.
“I’m not interested in repealing. If in fact the petitioners are correct that a majority of voters are unhappy with said LDRs, let’s bring it to a vote.”
If the voters shoot down the ordinances in September, the development regulations will be repealed. The council will then amend the regulations and hear additional public comment during the process of passing the necessary three ordinance readings to enact updated versions.