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Thread: Public access to files for upcoming meetings?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    Sep 2005
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    New York's beautiful Hudson Valley
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    Public access to files for upcoming meetings?

    I have seen this handled in so many different ways. What is the best way (in your opinion) to handle public requests for information about a specific item on the agenda for an upcoming meeting? In our small village the general practice has been to put out all files in a publically accessible location where people are free to paw through. I find this not to be a good practice because the files get all messed up and things tend to go missing. Elsewhere I have seen written FOIL requests required. Any thoughts?

    Thanks very much!

  2. #2
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    May 2003
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    Staff meeting
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    We allow people to look at the plans and the petitioner's application/petition, but they are under supervision of a staff member and they cannot look at any of the more sensitive petitioner/staff, internal staff, correspondence.

    We do not give out copies of any plans for security reasons and because the designer(s) retain ownership of their designs, so giving out copies would be considered copyright infringement.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Feb 1998
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    Greensburg, Kansas
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    Always have a staff person present with original documents. I never wait for a FOI request, makes it look like you have something to hide.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Apr 1996
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    Our notices have the following language at the bottom:

    Please note that the plans & files for the above referenced projects are available for review by the public up to the day of the meeting in the Planning & Economic Development Department Office, second floor of the Town Hall.

    Once we hit the day of the meeting, in the afternoon, the files are down at my spot in the meeting room for the public hearing.

    Staff correspondence for a formal application go directly to the Planning Board, and are not available until after the hearing, per the Board's formal application process. Any staff memoranda dealing with pre-application are available in the files for review by the public.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    People can come in and see anything they want during business hours anytime before the hearing - I don't write anything down to the Board that I wouldn't say to the applicant or the Press

  6. #6
    Cyburbian TOFB's avatar
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    Loma Linda's
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    100% open. If it is sensitive, don't write it down or if it is a conceptual plan, don't keep it.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TOFB
    if it is a conceptual plan, don't keep it.
    Yes, good advice. I tell applicants to not leave anything with me they don't want others to see. That way, I can get more done in the pre-app stages with an applicant. Once they figure out I'm for real with it, of course - that takes for-bleepin-ever!

  8. #8
    Member
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    Jan 2006
    Location
    Visalia, CA
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    A good way might be to put the documents you want online, if your town/village has a website, maybe that would create easier accessibility, and less problems with having original files mysteriously dissapearing.....

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