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How Open Are Meetings in Greenwich?

GREENWICH, Conn. — When the Board of Health cancelled its meeting last week, nearly two weeks before the scheduled July 25 event, it wasn’t just a matter of keeping the public informed. It’s also state law. As states and towns across the country increasingly institute sunshine laws , have you stopped to ask how open are the government procedures in Greenwich?

On a bulletin board in the town clerk’s office, notices and thick, bound agendas are posted from the Representative Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen, the Planning and Zoning Commission and more. Though the town also posts regularly on its website , “These are the only ones that matter. This board is what counts,” said Assistant Town Clerk Kimberley Jordan. She some departments do not post agendas, but all meetings must come through the office. “Some people think it’s OK to post a meeting an hour before it happens. It’s posted, but it’s not legal.”

According to state law, all regular meetings for the next year must be posted with the secretary of the state by Jan. 31. All agendas must be posted for each scheduled meeting at least 24 hours in advance of the scheduled time. A special meeting must have at least 24 hours notice, and the notice must be filed with several state offices.

The town’s website is the most convenient, up-to-date way for residents to get information on upcoming meetings, the town calendar and individual sites for entities. The Planning and Zoning Commission, for example, posts tentative and final agendas for meetings as links under planned meetings in the calendar. It also highlights submission deadlines (30 days before meetings) and links to archived actions made.

The Representative Town Meeting site lists rules, powers, members and all meeting documents and schedules as well as contact information for RTM members so residents can give input.

With one click, residents can get contact information, biographical information and find out the duties of all of the Board of Selectmen members. There are links to current and archived agendas and notices for the meetings that typically occur every other Thursday at the Town Hall Meeting Room, unless otherwise noted. For instance, when the board met last month to discuss a new central fire station, a notice was posted well ahead of time in town hall and on the website and it was sent to media outlets to inform residents the meeting would be held at the fire station on Havemeyer Place instead.

If there are any violations of town meeting laws, anyone can file an appeal with the Freedom of Information Commission, 30 days from when it became known any public agency had committed the violation.

The Daily Greenwich will be exploring this issue further in two more installments in the coming weeks, but we need your help. Do you think the town does enough to inform the public about their meetings before and after? Send responses to ahelhoski@thedailygreenwich.com

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