Petition to retain Marchus presented | SteamboatToday.com

Petition to retain Marchus presented

Susan Cunningham

A petition asking that Mark Marchus be returned to his position as head of the Regional Building Department was given to Routt County commissioners Monday.

The petition contained the signatures of more than 500 residents, many of them contractors.

The county terminated Marchus on Feb. 16 on allegations that he did not create a good working environment at the department and that he violated county gift polices by taking stones from a Dumpster, Marchus’ attorney has said.

Marchus has denied those allegations and many in the building community have stood behind him, saying that Marchus has improved the user-friendliness of the building department and should not be fired.

That message was reiterated Monday when the petition, which was started 12 days ago, was given to the county.

Michael Van Vliet, a contractor with Storm Mountain Services, presented the petition that had been signed by members of the Yampa Valley Trades Association, the mayors of Hayden and Oak Creek, and other community members.

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Then county officials outlined for those in attendance the grievance procedure they must follow, emphasizing that county commissioners would have the final decision. The grievance procedure begins with a hearing and a decision from a three-member board chosen for the process. That decision can be appealed to the Board of County Commissioners.

A Boulder attorney will represent the county in the process, County Manager Tom Sullivan said.

Allegations that one or several building inspectors targeted Marchus and retaliated against contractors by delaying decisions or giving unfavorable inspections also came up during the meeting. County officials said they need details on such allegations.

Sullivan said he was investigating one reported instance — the only he knew of.

“It won’t be tolerated, any instances of retaliation,” Sullivan said. “Good customer service is what it’s all about.”

Interim building chief Carl Dunham will work with the building department users board to look at the building permitting and inspection process to see what works and what needs to be improved, Sullivan said. If any part of the building code is unreasonable or does not make sense for the area, the county wants to make changes, he said.

County officials emphasized the grievance process was not a trial.

Overwhelming evidence supporting the allegations is not needed, county attorney John Merrill said.

The first hearing before a committee will be kept private, Merrill said, but an appeal to county commissioners could be open to the public if Marchus requests it.

Marchus’ attorney Charles Feldmann said the process should be open every step of the way, something he is trying to work out with county officials.

“Mark has nothing to hide,” Feldmann said. “He wants this open and public, so everybody can see exactly what happened in this process.”

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com