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Attorney General Kathy Jennings

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96-IB23: FOIA-Sussex County Council; Planning and Zoning Board and Board of Adjustments

Written on: June 20th, 1996 in 10001 Declaration of Policy

The Complainant alleged that the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Board violated the Freedom of Information Act by holding meetings in rooms that were too small and by noting that it would “take matters under advisement.” Held: the public bodies did not violate the Act by “taking matters under advisement” and holding meetings in places allegedly too small to allow for participation and observation by the public. The public body should clearly announce the time and place of the deliberation and vote, should advise the public that the session is open, and should announce that if the public elects not to attend the vote, that they can call the office in the morning during business hours for the decision. The procedure, although not specifically mandated by the Act, certainly complies with the spirit of §10001. When the meeting place may not be large enough to accommodate all the people who may wish to attend, the governmental unit must balance the public right of access against the burdens that providing additional public access would impose on the governmental unit.

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