Estes Valley Planning Commission responds to Sunshine Law violation

Estes Park Trail-Gazette: The Estes Valley Planning Commission held their first meeting after Town Administrator Frank Lancaster alerted the Town Board to a possible violation of Colorado’s Sunshine Law and addressed the issue directly while pledging changes for greater transparency and communication.

The start of the meeting had Commissioner Russ Schneider read a prepared statement on the situation. Schneider, the outgoing chair, sent an email on Jan. 4 asking if a policy on hunting should be developed, with both Commissioners Betty Hull and Bob Leavitt responding, discussing a possible policy. According to Lancaster, this was a violation of the Colorado Sunshine Law, which prohibits more than two members of a public board from discussing policy outside of an advertised public forum, or through email.

“To my fellow commissioners, I am sorry you have been painted by the brush of mistrust. During a November training session, the EVPC was advised that it would be a good practice to bring the entire Planning Commission into the agenda setting process, rather than have the agenda be exclusively set by the chairman and the Community Development Director, which has been the tradition,” Schneider said. “Recently however, and prior to having such a session, the chairman was looking for ideas regarding future meetings, knowing the number issues we would likely address in 2018 were vast. Some of the commissioners responded to the email which we have been told constitutes a violation of the Sunshine Law.”

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