With the certification of 120 signatures by the Bartholomew County Clerk, Columbus petitioners have forced a remonstrance on the city’s Commons building project. All work on the development is now on hold.
The anti-Commons drive needed 100 property owners or registered voters to sign on to their cause in order to create a 30-day signature-collecting runoff.
Before that contest begins though, there is a 30-day cooling-off period that began Wednesday.
County Clerk Tami Hines said 82 of the signers were property owners and 38 were registered voters. A total of thirteen signatures were thrown out by the auditor and clerk’s offices.
This was Hines’ first remonstrance. She said she followed the rulebook closely to avoid mistakes.
“It was a really smooth process. We worked really well with the auditor’s office. We didn’t have any problems with it,” Hines said.
But now Hines will have another job to learn; that of coordinating the petition contest. The clerk’s office will also pay for all costs involved.
If Commons supporters win, the project may move forward as city officials see fit. If the anti-Commons group, headed by Mike Lovelace, wins, the city must wait at least one year before returning the Commons to public consideration.
A pro-Commons faction comprised of local business owners has pledged to work on behalf of city officials, such as Mayor Fred Armstrong, who cannot legally campaign for it.
All Columbus city officials are barred from speaking about the Commons in their official duties, but many have refused to address the issue at all on the advice of city attorneys.
The Commons project is estimated to cost $18 million, with $9 million coming from donations and a fund drive, and the rest falling to city taxpayers over a 20-year period.