Marble trustees take illegal vote
November 16, 2006
A vote by the Marble town trustees against a project to commemorate the community’s role in quarrying stone for the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington violated the state’s open meetings law, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.The trustees didn’t adequately publicize the vote in advance, a three-judge appeals panel said in a 2-1 ruling. The appeals judges sent the case back to district court with orders to nullify the vote and require the trustees to give better notice of any future vote.In January 2004, the 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 quarry has offered to provide marble to replace the tomb, which has cracked. Two blocks of marble would be carved from the quarry in case one was damaged, and the unused block would be on display at the proposed visitors center.The posted agenda for the meeting said it would include an “update” on the proposal but did not say the trustees would vote.Some residents protested the vote, saying they wanted to discuss the proposal with the trustees. The trustees refused to rescind the decision on, and four residents sued, alleging the trustees violated the Open Meetings Law.Gunnison County District Judge J. Steven Patrick ruled in favor of the trustees, but the appeals court reversed his decision. The appeals court said the posted agenda had implied the trustees would continue discussing the proposal and vote at the future meeting.Appeals Judge James Casebolt dissented, saying the agenda was accurate because the trustees hadn’t initially planned to take a final vote. The Open Meetings Law is flexible enough to allow unplanned changes in meeting agendas, Casebolt wrote.The Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.