By Corina Vanek | Arizona Republic
The Arizona Supreme Court determined the Surprise city clerk acted out of her authority when she rejected all signatures submitted in an effort to get a controversial affordable housing development on a future ballot.
A citizens group called Voice of Surprise sought a referendum on the City Council’s approval of an affordable apartment and townhome development planned near Cotton Lane and Waddell Road. The group submitted more than 5,400 signatures to the city in September 2022.
The proposed development, called Truman Ranch Marketplace, would include more than 600 affordable units and was planned by affordable housing developer Dominium.
After receiving the signatures, former Surprise City Clerk Sherry Aguilar notified the group that all of the signatures had been rejected because they “do not strictly comply with all requirements for referenda imposed by Arizona law.”
Aguilar has since retired as Surprise city clerk.
The rejection, based on Aguilar’s letter to Voice of Surprise, hinged on the fact that Voice of Surprise leaders failed to attach a copy of the full title and text of the measure sought to be referred when the group applied for a referendum serial number.
However, the Arizona Supreme Court said deciding whether a serial number application is legal is not within the authority of a city clerk.