Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 23, 2010

No Open Meetings Law Violation Where Board Members Met with Zoning Commissioner and County Attorney After Court Hearing

A unscheduled gathering of four members of a five county board, as well as a the county attorney and the county zoning administrator to discuss a court decision setting aside the board’s rezoning decision immediately after the court decision did not constitute a meeting subject to the open meetings law.  The Court noted that during this time, the board members did not take any votes, make any decisions, or give any direction to the zoning administrator with respect to the zoning matter.  Under the Georgia Open Meetings Act, a “meeting” is defined as “the gathering of a quorum of the members of the governing body of an agency … pursuant to schedule, call, or notice of or from such governing body or committee or an authorized member, at a designated time and place at which any public matter, official business, or policy of the agency is to be discussed or presented or at which official action is to be taken.” The Court found that a meeting was not “called,” but that rather the county attorney gathered the parties after the court hearing to explain the reasons for the judge’s ruling.  No decisions were made and no action was taken at that time. The Court said that, “Even if some shadowy semblance of an issue exists regarding whether any business or policy was discussed at the conference, there remains uncontradicted evidence that the “gathering” was not held “pursuant to schedule, call, or notice … at a designated time and place…” and that “therefore, the conference did not constitute a “meeting” within the meaning of the Act.”

Gumz v. Irvin, 300 Ga.App. 426, 685 S.E.2d 392 (GA. App. 10/8/2009)

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