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Rejected by title board, Springs' anti-frackers strategize

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Stymied again last week by the city's Initiative Title Setting Review Board, the petition committee behind Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights still plans to fight for a citizen vote on whether fracking should be banned locally.

"We think this is really important," says group member Dave Gardner. "We are evaluating our options, and we're very likely to appeal this."

CSCCR's proposed charter amendment aimed, first and foremost, to ask voters whether they'd like to outlaw "the extraction of natural gas or oil, including but not limited to, the processes commonly known as hydraulic fracturing and/or directional natural gas and oil well drilling" within the Springs.

But the proposal also establishes that such a ban would be done to protect certain rights within the community, including "the right to pure water" and "the right to community self-government." That apparently helped lead the title board, made up of City Attorney Chris Melcher, City Clerk Sarah Johnson, and Presiding Municipal Judge HayDen Kane II, to say the proposal violated the city's rule dictating that a ballot measure address only a single subject.

Asked for comment, Melcher did not respond by press time.

CSCCR maintains the board is making too restrictive an interpretation of "single subject." But perhaps more importantly, it argues that the single-subject rule itself may be legally invalid, since it was established by ordinance, and not by citizen-approved amendment to the city charter. In addition, Gardner and fellow activist Lotus note that the title board itself was also established by ordinance — leading them to question whether it should have jurisdiction over these matters, or even exist at all.

The University of Denver Sturm College of Environmental Law Clinic has agreed to help, pro bono, in any upcoming legal fight. Meanwhile, CSCCR has scheduled a media event for 11 a.m. Thursday at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media, 315 E. Costilla St., to lay out its plans.

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