Issues in Land Use Law & Zoning

Open Meeting Laws – Part 2: Avoiding Open Meeting Law Violations

September 17th, 2013

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Yesterday, I provided an overview of the goals Open Meetings laws seek to achieve and what your board or commission normally needs to do to comply with such laws. Perhaps the most important point was that because Open Meetings laws differ in the details of their coverage and requirements from state-to-state, it is critical to obtain clear direction from your board’s legal counsel regarding when and how to comply with your state’s requirements.

With that caveat in mind, I want to discuss steps to avoid violating an Open Meetings law -- and briefly cover some situations that are particularly troublesome: meetings in executive session, site-visits, “informal” meetings with staff, and electronic communications.

Complying with Open Meetings laws requires establishing both proper procedures for notifying the public of upcoming meetings and rules for how you conduct your meetings -- and then following them meticulously. If you do that, and keep the notice requirements in mind when you schedule “special” meetings, it’s pretty easy to avoid violations.

Part 2 continues with a discussion of:

Going Into Executive Session

Site Visits

Informal Meetings With Planning Staff

Communications by E-Mail, Social Media, or Telephone

Consequences of Violations

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