Boulder County responds to lawsuit delaying debris removal program
DENVER — In response to a lawsuit that delayed approval of the debris removal contract for people who lost their homes and businesses in the Marshall Fire, Boulder County argued that the company who sued has no standing and that a judge should dismiss the case.
In February, Boulder County commissioners unanimously awarded the cleanup contract to Metairie, Louisiana-based DRC Emergency Services, LLC, out of 11 different proposals. The company said it was able to begin the cleanup process by March 1 and could do so by early July, barring weather delays.
Two of the companies that also submitted bids appealed the decision, but commissioners denied those appeals, the county announced Tuesday.
But a January-registered nonprofit called Demanding Integrity in Government Spending, which is led by Michael Brown, the former FEMA administrator under President George W. Bush and current radio host 630 KHOW, has sued. in court for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction claiming county commissioners violated Colorado’s open meeting law and improperly convened executive sessions to discuss the contract.
Louisville City Manager Jeff Durbin said March 1 that the lawsuit would delay the start of the debris removal process by at least two weeks.
Boulder County filed its response March 9 and released it Friday. The county argues that it did indeed follow state law in the contract award process – the team recommending DR Emergency Services, LLC, to county commissioners for the process, which the board passed in a public meeting on February 10.
County attorneys argued the court should deny Brown’s motion, saying that if the court rules in his favor, “it will result in a severe blow to the more than 1,084 households whose homes were tragically burned down during the Marshall fire”.
They argued that Brown could not win the case because he and his company had failed to prove that they were residents of Boulder County and had an interest in the outcome of the trial process. county supply. They also allege that he did not prove any bodily harm.
The attorneys also explained why they believe open assembly laws were not violated throughout the process. And they included in their response affidavits from people who lost their homes, arguing that Brown’s interest in open meeting law enforcement is far outweighed by the damage to fire victims who must wait longer for the debris cleanup to begin.
“Brown’s purely abstract interest in strict adherence to COML pales in comparison to the survivors’ Marshall Fire interests to remove debris in a timely manner, rebuild their homes, and resume their normal lives,” the attorneys argued. County.
One of the affidavits is from a man named Tim Hughes, who said he had an established plan to rebuild his home by the end of 2023, but needed to reinvest all the money from the insurance that he recoups in construction costs because he is underinsured. He testified that if he lost his place in the building queue, it could cost over $100,000 in extra money.
Another person, Phyllis Hollister, said she and her partner are retired, underinsured, and the timing of debris removal will have a big impact on whether to rebuild or sell the property.
Several other victims said the 24-month deadline for insurance companies to pay additional living expenses was also taken into account for them.
“ALE insurance coverage is for 2 years, so any delays in this process may… [force us] to pay both our current mortgage and our rental properties with our own money. This is going to break us,” Jennifer Spalding said, according to the filler.
The government’s spending integrity requirement has until next Tuesday to respond to the county’s response, and the Boulder County District Court is scheduled to hear the case next Friday, March 18.
The county says if the court rules in its favor, it will move forward to finalize the contract with DRC emergency services and the intergovernmental agreement between the county, Louisville and Superior.
The county said that if the contract goes ahead, it and RDC believe the cleanup could be completed by July.
“The county is hopeful that the contract can be finalized and the IGA can be approved by the end of March, which would allow the project to be mobilized immediately thereafter,” the county said. “Beginning in March, the county and the contractor remain optimistic that the program will end in July 2022, weather permitting.”