Referendum Revision: Citizen group responds to city attorney's - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Referendum Revision: Citizen group responds to city attorney's concerns

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - An Eau Claire citizen group has re-worded a petition after the city attorney publicly expressed his concerns.

Wednesday, the group released the petition that calls for the city to hold a binding referendum on the Confluence Project before construction begins.  The petition suggests creating an ordinance in which a referendum is necessary if the city plans to tear down an historic building or landmark to make way for the project.  Steve Nick, the city attorney, called that specific stipulation unlawful.  He said there's a legal process which determines when and how the owner of an historic property can demolish it... and that involves city codes and state law.  Nick believes the ordinance would supersede the law.

The citizen group said it believes that argument would not hold up in court, but wants to move forward, so the details about historic buildings were taken out of the petition.

Nick, who expressed other concerns about the petition, said he shared those concerns with the group's attorney privately before they released the initial petition Wednesday.

Revised petition:

Prior to the start of any physical construction of any municipally financed (in whole or in part) project which includes a building planned for dramatic, musical, or artistic performances, requiring a capital expenditure by the City, or by any entity created by the City, of one million dollars or more, the City Council shall submit to the electorate a binding referendum for approval of the project. Failure of the binding referendum shall preclude the City or City entity from proceeding with the project. The wording of any referendum shall provide the specific purpose, location and cost of the project and an estimate of operating costs which will be provided by the City or a City entity. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to preclude the City from exercising its role in the planning or design of such publicly financed projects.

Original petition:

Prior to the start of any physical construction of any municipally financed (in whole or in part) project which includes a building planned for dramatic, musical, or athletic performances, requiring a capital expenditure by the City, or by any entity created by the City, of one million dollars or more, or which project will include the destruction of a building on the National Register of Historic Places, or which is designated a landmark pursuant to Ordinance 2.65.010 - 2.65.110, the City Council shall submit to the electorate a binding referendum for approval of the project. Failure of the binding referendum shall preclude the City or City entity from proceeding with the project. The wording of any referendum shall provide the specific purpose, location and cost of the project and an estimate of operating costs which will be provided by the City or a City entity. Nothing in this provision shall be construed to preclude the City from exercising its role in the planning or design of such publicly financed projects.

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