Superior Court Judge Robert Duber Friday said he will halt a scheduled November special election on whether the Town of Payson should lease park land to the YMCA for a pool and fitness center.
The judge said that the citizen's group that gathered some 1,500 signatures on initiative petitions ignored state law requiring that the group's name indicate what position it was taking on the initiative and checked the wrong box as to whether it supported or opposed the measure on its application form. Duber stated that the groups name and the mistakes on the application violated state laws intended to prevent groups from confusing or misleading voters when gathering signatures or advocating on behalf of a proposition.
Both the anti-YMCA group -- Friends of Payson -- and an attorney hired by the town argued strongly that the incomplete name of the group and the mistakes on filling out the application were minor mistakes that didn't confuse the people who signed the petitions and therefore should not overturn the petitions seeking a public vote on the proposed lease with the YMCA signed by 16 percent of the town's registered voters.
However, an attorney representing a former YMCA official who challenged the petitions argued that the flaws in the paperwork blatantly violated the clear requirements of state law that require the courts to disqualify all the signatures if a group was not in "strict" compliance with the regulations.
Judge Duber asked the attorney opposing the petitions to draft a proposed order by Monday, so that he could issue an injunction blocking the election scheduled for Nov. 4. The court acted with unusual haste, in case either side wanted to appeal the decision in time to still get the issue on the ballot.
Attorney's for both Payson and the Friends of Payson declined to comment on whether they would appeal the judge's ruling.
For a complete account of the hearing and the next step in the battle over the proposed lease of five acres of land in Rumsey Park for the $5.6-million YMCA pool, gym and fitness center, see Tuesday's Roundup.