The following was read during Citizens to be Heard at the City Council meeting on April 26, 2017. During this meeting several citizens stood up to speak about concerns with the toll road project. As of June 28th, this citizen has still not received a response from the city.
We are asking today again for only one thing. We ask y’all to put this development agreement to a public vote. We believe that the citizens of this community should be able to vote on this decision. This project has a massive impact on the future of our community, and should not be taken lightly. Right now, citizens feel like y’all are making a huge decision without considering the input and wishes of your constituents. The citizens voted our council members into office with the belief that y’all would make decisions that represent the wishes of the constituents. Right now, we don’t feel like that is happening. We understand that not all decisions can be put to a public vote. However, this decision will have an impact on our community permanently. We should be able to be a part of that decision.
Many parts of this development agreement are high risk, but the biggest one is probably the discussion of eminent domain. Citizens do not feel comfortable with the fact that y’all are willing to take property from their neighbor and allow a private company to profit from it. I believe that given the option, the majority of citizens will tell you they do not support that decision. If it can be done for a toll road, where is the line drawn? How do we know y’all won’t do the same thing in the future for some other for profit company?
Additionally, the signed agreement needs to be re-done. There are too many details that are incorrect or unclear based on the explanations we have received. When this new development agreement is presented to you, you will have an opportunity to do the right thing and allow your constituents to decide what they believe is best for the entire community. Please do the right thing here. I know that you believe you have acted in the best interest of the city. I do not question the intentions of this council. However, I believe that this project has taken a life of its own. The agreement as it stands is unenforceable. Neither side can fulfill their obligations according to the agreement. This is your chance to reconsider your decision of agreeing to the contract.
I believe that y’all followed the minimum legal requirements necessary for this project. In this situation though, I don’t believe the bare minimum was enough. Sometimes doing the right thing requires going above and beyond the bare minimum. I ask tonight that y’all go above and beyond and allow the public to vote on this. During this process, we have thoroughly studied the city charter and the requirements for a referendum. The current city charter requires us to have 30% of the number of votes cast in the last city election for the referendum. As you know, the last election was a highly contested presidential election which brought out more voters than possibly ever before. This created a situation where the referendum required a higher number than ever to meet.
We believe that the 30% required by the city of Cibolo within 30 days from the time of publication is not reasonable. I’ve compiled a chart showing a comparison of the referendum requirements by neighboring cities. You will notice that Cibolo has the highest percentage required, as well as the shortest time required to obtain those signatures. In addition, the wording of the city charter is unclear. It states that the requirement is ‘30% of the number of votes cast at the last general City election or one hundred fifty (150), whichever is greater.’ Elections are either a general election or a city election, they are not referred to as ‘general city election.’ This creates an unclear requirement of which election numbers should be used.
Because we believe that the referendum requirements are unreasonable, we intend to pursue an initiative to change that in the city charter. We will again seek the signatures to meet 30% in order to pursue that change. We hope that in the future, citizens will be met with a smoother, more clear and reasonable process when they feel that action is required. Thank you for your time and your dedication to our city, we sincerely hope that y’all make the right decision and allow your constituents to vote on the development agreement.
Thank you for your time and everything you do for the city.