Marble wins state Supreme Court decision in open meetings case |

Marble wins state Supreme Court decision in open meetings case

MARBLE, Colorado ” The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday sided with the town of Marble, reversing a state appeals court ruling that the town had violated Sunshine Laws regarding legal noticing of a January 2004 meeting.

“The court holds that the (meeting notice) was ‘full’ because an ordinary member of the community would understand that the agenda item listed on the notice would include consideration of, and possible formal action on, the park proposal.”

The state Appeals Court, in November 2006, ruled 2-1 that a vote by the Marble Board of Trustees against a project to build a park commemorating Marble’s role in quarrying stone for the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, D.C., violated the state’s Open Meetings Law, aka the “Sunshine Laws,” because trustees didn’t adequately publicize the vote in advance.

At the Jan. 8, 2004, meeting, trustees voted against a proposal for a visitors center and museum about the nearby Colorado Yule Quarry, which provided the marble for the Tomb of the Unknowns about 75 years ago.

The posted agenda for the meeting said it would include an “update” on the proposal, but did not specifically say the trustees would vote.

Some proponents of the plan protested the vote, saying they wanted to discuss the matter with the trustees. Trustees refused to rescind the decision, and residents Larry and Dana Darien, Tom Williams and Dan Brumbaugh sued, alleging the board violated the Open Meetings Law.

The appeals court reversed a lower court ruling, saying the posted agenda had implied the trustees would continue discussing the proposal and vote at a future meeting.

“Obviously we’re very pleased, and think it’s the right decision,” town attorney Sherry Caloia said. “It allows that the town and other governments can make decisions in a public forum without fear that they didn’t make some specific notice of the decision on the agenda.

“If you have to be that specific about every possible decision that might be made, it just makes the process more time intensive and prolonged, and I don’t think that’s good for anybody,” Caloia said. “There was no intent to exclude anyone from any hearings.”

Gunnison attorney Luke Danielson represented the plaintiffs. He said Monday that the Supreme Court decision brings an end to the case.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” he said. “Our hope is that this means the issue is over and the community can get beyond this and work together to try to build a better future. It’s time for the community to heal and get beyond this dispute.”

The Supreme Court decision comes after oral arguments in the case were heard on Oct. 23, 2007.

Caloia said the town will go back to the district court asking for about $3,000 in costs associated with the case to be reimbursed.

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