The city of Asheville acknowledged today that it had not provided public notice of meeting dates, times and locations of its Accessory Dwelling Unit Task Force.
Some members of the special task force created by Asheville City Council have raised concerns, as reported by Xpress on Dec. 9, about the way in which the group’s recommendations are due to be presented to Council at its regular meeting on Dec. 13 (ADU task force recommendations clouded by process concerns).
State law requires that all advisory committees appointed by municipal governments follow state public meetings requirements, which include making meetings open to the public, providing notice of the meetings and recording meeting minutes.
In response to a Dec. 8 public records request by Mountain Xpress, the city acknowledged today (Dec. 13) that it had not provided public notice of meeting dates, times and locations for the ADU task force.
At the time the Task Force was created, staff did not consider official public notice to be required under the Open Meetings law. Upon review, notice may have been advisable, and in the future, processes will be put in place to ensure that all official meetings of public bodies are properly noticed. Please be aware that all of the Task Force meetings were open to the public, and information as to the dates and times was available.
In its partial fulfillment of Xpress open records request, the city provided meeting minutes, documents related to the scope of services to be delivered by the task force facilitator and the summary report of the task force. Email correspondence related to the task force was also part of the records request; that part of the request is under review by the City Attorney’s office and has not yet been released.
In a Nov. 25 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mayor Esther Manheimer was quoted as saying, “We have a number of task forces going and we’ll probably continue to use this model to work through complicated issues that the city is facing.”
Given the mayor’s statement that the city will continue to use special citizen task forces to consider complex issues, the city’s acknowledgement today — that such bodies may need to conform to all provisions of public meeting requirements, including public notice — takes on added significance.