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All three Damascus comp plans appear to fail

Wide 'no' margin on all three plans, but one will go on November ballot


All three of Damascus' comprehensive development plans appear to have lost at the polls, but the original plan has the most votes in early returns.

The three plans on the ballot were the original 2013 plan, which got 593 yes votes for 31.7 percent and 1,275 no votes, for 68.3 percent.

Mayor Steve Spinnett's plan received 576 yes votes (29.6 percent) and 1,372 no votes (70.4 percent) and City Council President Andrew Jackman's plan, which received 191 yes votes (10.5 percent) and 1,630 no votes (89.5 percent).

Damascus has been sanctioned by the state for not submitting a comp plan since it was incorporated in 2004 by withholding state revenue and recent legislation to allow people to de-annex and leave the city.

Residents have been vocal at City Council meetings about their displeasure with the council for not adopting the original comp plan and many planning volunteers have resigned.

The 2013 plan was developed with intensive citizen input and many public meetings. The mayor rejected that plan and formed his own plan that favors property rights and Jackman developed his own plan that leans more toward environmental concerns.

But Spinnett is not concerned, he said and that his plan will be going on the November ballot.

“When you add up the 'yeses,' it comes to 1,360,” he said. “I'm not terrible discouraged because according to (council) agreement, it looks like 3-444 (his plan) will go onto the November ballot.”

Both the mayor's and the council president's plan were placed on the ballot by the City Council, while the original 2013 plan got on the ballot by voter petition.

Spinnett said he didn't think there should be more than one plan on the November ballot.

“For them to do that (along) with the city's plan, it would lose,” he said. “Anything more than one plan would lose.”

Spinnett said the whole council should get behind his plan.

“I need to reach out to the whole council and come up with a product we can all sign on,” he said. “I don't want to say it's my way or the highway, but it's time to have one voice.”

Spinnett added that he would have a round of public meetings to try and resolve differences about his comp plan.

But Councilor Jim De Young, who was in favor of the original 2013 plan, said a compromise is unlikely, and plans are already in the works to launch another signature campaign for the original 2013 plan to go on the November ballot alongside Spinnett's version.

“The only thing that would stop that would be that the mayor and our plan remove differences or agree on one plan going forward,” he said. “But I'm not disposed to compromise in the direction his plan is.”