ADAMS — The state attorney general’s office has cited the town of Adams and its Select Board for an open meeting law violation.
In a Feb. 7 letter sent to the town and the complainant, Catherine Foster, Assistant Attorney General Mary Nguyen found that the board “failed to post notice for its December 14 meeting at the Town’s designated posting location.” The board approved Shared Estates as a developer for the Greylock Glen campsite at that meeting.
While there was no specific penalty assessed to the town, the Attorney General Division of Open Government ordered the board’s “immediate and future compliance with the Open Meeting Law,” cautioning the board that a similar violation in the future “may be considered evidence of intent to violate the Open Meeting Law.”
Foster’s complaint alleged that the notice the town did post “was insufficient because the date and time stamp indicating when it was posted was illegible.”
Nguyen’s resolution states that the board filed a notice for the Dec. 14 meeting with the town clerk, which was then sent to the Police Department on Dec. 9. The notice was posted on the department’s bulletin board on Dec. 9. The town has not officially adopted its website as a notice-posting spot. The current location for posting public notices is the Adams Town Hall at 8 Park St.
“These things aren’t necessarily bad things because they always help the municipality perform better,” Adams Town Administrator Jay Green said. “The AG’s office wouldn’t phrase it this way, but I would phrase it as a ‘technical violation.’”
Nguyen also pointed out that, although the notice was posted twice — on the town’s website and at the Police Department — it was not properly posted on the town’s designated posting location, in or on Town Hall.
At the December meeting, the board approved a preliminary plan to build a 23-acre campground as part of the Greylock Glen development, which critics have panned as too upscale for a “rustic” campground. Opponents also complained about the location at the convergence of several hiking trails, which they argue will be disruptive.
Green denies that the subject matter of the Dec. 14 meeting had something to do with the error.
“The issue is that the town never went through the procedural step of declaring the website the official posting location,” Green said. He said the town will be doing just that next month. Upon receiving the decision, the town clerk began posting notices on the Town Hall door window facing its parking lot.
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“I think the decision is more symbolic if anything,” Foster told The Eagle Thursday. “I think it would be nice if the town did the right thing and got more input from the public.”
Green said the town has technically been in violation of the open meeting law for “a while” because it hasn’t been posting notices in the Town Hall.
“This goes to show you that people move along in good faith, no one has ever challenged it before, and all of a sudden we have a topic that becomes controversial for somebody, and they file a compliant,” Green said. “Nobody in the town of Adams was trying to avoid publishing a public meeting when we chose a developer for a project. That is not the case.”
Foster said she filed a complaint with the state after she was unsatisfied with the Board’s response to an initial complaint she filed on Jan. 7 with the town. She said the town “refused to acknowledge” her complaint.
In a Jan. 18 email obtained by The Eagle, Adams Town Attorney Edmund St. John told Foster that the town did nothing wrong.
“I contacted our Town Clerk, Haley Meczywor, who provided me with the attached posting showing that the agenda was posted on December 9, 2022 for the December 14, 2022 meeting,” he wrote, adding that a notice was posted in the police station. “Therefore, I believe that the December 14, 2022 meeting was validly posted under the Open Meeting Law.”