As Green Roof Initiative Heads to Probable Victory, Denver’s Mayor — An Opponent — Turns To Implementation

Mayor Michael Hancock opposed the Denver Green Roof Initiative but said Wednesday morning, as votes still were being counted, that its probable passage was spurring his administration to consider how it will implement the new requirements.

“We have always made a good-faith effort to implement the initiatives — once the people have spoken, that’s our job,” he said.

City leaders rushed Wednesday to get their arms around a voter initiative that, if certified, would give Denver the most stringent and far-reaching green-roof requirements in the nation. After its backers were successful at qualifying the measure for the ballot, Hancock joined building and real estate interests in opposing Initiative 300, saying it “goes too far too fast.”

But most voters appeared to like the idea.

The most recent results showed Initiative 300 winning the support of 52 percent of voters, with a slowly widening 4.3-percentage-point margin and more than 96,000 votes counted. The Denver Elections Division resumed processing ballots Wednesday morning and says it next will update the results at 3 p.m.; it’s unclear how many ballots remain uncounted, but ballot return data from the Secretary of State’s Office suggest it’s more than 30,000.

Reporters asked Hancock about the initiative during a news conference in the City and County Building that was staged to celebrate voters’ overwhelming approval for all seven components of the city’s $937 million bond package.

At its most basic level, the initiative’s green-roof requirements will mandate that builders incorporate rooftop gardens, potentially in combination with solar panels, when new buildings have at least 25,000 square feet of gross floor area underneath. The requirements also would be triggered for existing buildings of that size when their roofs are replaced or additions push the floor area above the threshold.

The slew of city-supported construction projects that Denver’s new bond package will set in motion was among Hancock’s concerns as he addressed the Green Roof Initiative.

“We are concerned that it may mean additional costs to some of these projects that we are laying out, in terms of the bond, that we didn’t have programmed in the dollars,” he said. “But we’ll have to determine that as we look at it more closely on how it will impact our projects.”

He said it was too early to elaborate on other concerns expressed by his advisers, including the city attorney, at a behind-closed-doors briefing earlier Wednesday.

But he did raise the possibility that the City Council or the administration could consider “tweaks” as they work out implementation. Six months after passage, the city charter grants the council the power to make changes to a voter-passed initiative, or repeal it entirely, with a two-thirds majority.

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