Recent Findings on the “Emergency”

In Dollar General Updates on March 10, 2011 at 5:56 PM

This is perhaps the most revealing information about the recent sale of Town owned property discovered:

In the “Minutes of Meeting of the Palisade Board of Trustees February, 2 2011,” Tim Sarmo “notified the Board that this (Ordinance 2011-01, “Authorizing the Sale of Town Owned Property and Declaring an Emergency”) was an Emergency Ordinance and would need 6 of the 7 vote yes to have the Ordinance become effective immediately. Otherwise, if it was a minority vote, it would pass as a regular Ordinance and become effective 30 days after publication.”

The only Declaration of an Emergency was Tim Sarmo telling the board they needed majority vote to skirt the 30 days publication (due process).

Questions: What constitutes an emergency? Is there any legal precedent for considering the sale of Town owned property an “Emergency?”

We requested documents from the Town offices pertaining to emergency provisions (municipal code – Sec. 1-55. and 31-16-105). It appears that an emergency vote, waiving 30 day public notification, may only be used in cases of special election, public health, and public safety. Real estate deals don’t seem to fit in with that. Tim Sarmo and the Board of Trustees have stated publicly that they declared an emergency ordinance to push the deal through. It does not seem appropriate to skirt due process over the sale of town land. In fact, the sale of land at the “gateway of our community” should be most informed by democratic processes: public notice/comment, advisement from comprehensive plan and planning committee, respect for town administered survey results, etc.

There was no emergency and no “Declaration of an Emergency” other than our Town Administrator telling the Board they needed a majority vote to waive the public comment period.

  1. The other times they’ve passed emergency ordinances were when they passed the Medical Marijuana business permit and when they put a liquor store 50 yards from the Elementary School (also known as Taylor Elementary Liquor in my family.) Clearly, the board and/or Town Manager has established a pattern for declaring an emergency when they want to bypass public input and pass an ordinance immediately. This clearly is not grounds for declaring an emergency!!!

    It is vital that the board stop this practice. It saddens me that it would’ve only taken 2 board members to say, “No,” and then we would’ve had our 30 days to comment.

    I also take issue with the supposed discussion had during the “Executive Session.” This practice must also stop. I’m not a lawyer, but the executive session sounds pretty unconstitutional to me as well.

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